Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

2007

Publication Source

Proceedings of the Royal Society B

Volume

274

Issue

1606

Start Page

25

Last Page

32

DOI

10.1098/rspb.2006.3689

Abstract

The evolution and persistence of biological cooperation have been an important puzzle in evolutionary theory. Here, we suggest a new approach based on bargaining theory to tackle the question. We present a mechanistic model for negotiation of benefits between a nitrogen-fixing nodule and a legume plant. To that end, we first derive growth rates for the nodule and plant from metabolic models of each as a function of material fluxes between them. We use these growth rates as pay-off functions in the negotiation process, which is analogous to collective bargaining between a firm and a workers’ union. Our model predicts that negotiations lead to the Nash bargaining solution, maximizing the product of players’ pay-offs. This work introduces elements of cooperative game theory into the field of mutualistic interactions. In the discussion of the paper, we argue for the benefits of such an approach in studying the question of biological cooperation.

Comments

At the time of publication, author Erol Akçay was affiliated with Stanford University. Currently, he is a faculty member at the Department of Biology at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Date Posted: 30 September 2015

This document has been peer reviewed.