Kallus, Y.,Miller, J. H.,Libby, E.

Microbes produce metabolic resources that are important for cell growth yet leak into the environment. Other microbes can use these resources, adjust their own metabolic production accordingly, and alter the resources available for others. We analyze a model in which metabolite concentrations, production regulation, and population frequencies coevolve in the simple case of two cell types producing two metabolites. We identify three paradoxes where changes that should intuitively benefit a cell type actually harm it. For example, a cell type can become more efficient at producing a metabolite and its relative frequency can decrease-or alternatively the total population growth rate can decrease. Another paradox occurs when a cell type manipulates its counterpart's production so as to maximize its own instantaneous growth rate, only to achieve a lower final growth rate than had it not manipulated. These paradoxes highlight the complex and counterintuitive dynamics that emerge in simple microbial economies.