In Krivan (2006) bacterial growth on a mixture of two sugars is modeled. It is well know that in mixed substrates with glucose and lactose bacteria often utilize glucose first and then switch to lactose (or to some alternate source of energy). At the molecular level this switch is known as the lac operon. In this article I ask: Is this switch evolutionarily optimized? In other words, do bacteria switch between the resources at the time that maximizes their fitness? To answer this question I build a model of bacterial growth on two substrates. The model assumes adaptive bacterial switching that maximizes bacterial per capita population growth rate – a proxy for bacterial fitness. Using some data from the literature, this model allows me to predict the time at which bacteria should switch. Then I compare this predicted time with observed times of switching for different substrates and different initial sugar concentrations. The observed times of switching show a very good agreement with predicted times. This strongly supports the idea that the molecular mechanism regulating resource switching is evolutionarily optimized. This is also a test of an optimal foraging theory when populations undergo population dynamics. On contrary to the majority of experiments on the optimal foraging theory that do not consider population dynamics of foragers, this model considers all populations dynamics.
The habitat selection game is a game theoretical concept that describes species distribution in22 heterogeneous environments. For a single population, Fretwell and Lucas (1970) defined the Ideal Free Distribution (IFD) in patchy environments, under which animal payoffs in all occupied patches are the same and maximal. Thus, the IFD is a Nash equilibrium of a game that we call the Habitat Selection Game. As any strategy that uses only already occupied patches will get the same fitness at the Nash Equilibrium, it is not clear if the Ideal Free Distribution is stable with respect to mutant invasions. Cressman and Krivan (2006) proved that the IFD is also an Evolutionarily Stable Strategy, i.e., resistant to mutant strategies. The habitat selection game was extended to two and multiple species. The IFD for two competing species in a two-patch environment was derived by Krivan and Sirot (2002). Cressman et al (2004) proved that this two-species IFD is also an Evolutionarily Stable Strategy for two populations. The effects of the IFD on population dynamics of two competing species was studied by Abrams et al. (2007). Evolutionarily stability under population dynamics were considered for multiple populations by Krivan and Cressman (2009) and for a single population by Cressman and Krivan (2010). Many results on habitat selection game for competing species or predator-prey interactions were reviewed in Krivan et al. (2008).