Far from being selfish organisms whose sole purpose is to maximize their own reproduction, bacteria in large communities work for the greater good by resolving a social conflict among individuals to enhance the survival of their entire community. It turns out that, much like human societies, bacterial communities benefit when they can balance opposing needs within the group. The discovery of this unusual behavior among bacteria in large communities comes not from any inherent altruism among the bacteria. Instead, it “emerges” spontaneously from the community in which the bacteria grow.
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