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The Phoenix effect

A spore-forming bacterium can escape from social collapse and extinction with a single mutation that has a dramatic effect. Here is evidence that a cooperative system can recover from the very brink of destruction.

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Figure 1: Fruiting bodies of the social bacterium Myxococcus xanthus emerging from soil.
Figure 2: Four possible outcomes when a cheater evolves in a social species.


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Foster, K. The Phoenix effect. Nature 441, 291–292 (2006).

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