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Phenotypic Diversity, Population Growth, and Information in Fluctuating Environments

Science  23 Sep 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5743, pp. 2075-2078
DOI: 10.1126/science.1114383

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Abstract

Organisms in fluctuating environments must constantly adapt their behavior to survive. In clonal populations, this may be achieved through sensing followed by response or through the generation of diversity by stochastic phenotype switching. Here we show that stochastic switching can be favored over sensing when the environment changes infrequently. The optimal switching rates then mimic the statistics of environmental changes. We derive a relation between the long-term growth rate of the organism and the information available about its fluctuating environment.

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