Single-nutrient microbial competition: qualitative agreement between experimental and theoretically forecast outcomes

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Science  28 Mar 1980:
Vol. 207, Issue 4438, pp. 1491-1493
DOI: 10.1126/science.6767274


When microbial strains compete for the same limiting nutrient in continuous culture, resource-based competition theory predicts that only one strain will survive and all others will die out. The surviving strain expected from theory will be the one with the smallest subsistence or "break-even" concentration of the limiting resource, a concentration defined by the J parameter. This prediction has been confirmed in the case of auxotrophic bacterial strains competing for limiting tryptophan. Because the value of J can be measured on the strains grown alone, the theory can predict the qualitative outcomes of mixed-growth competition in advance of actual competition.