Created by: Anshuman Swain, Levi Fussell

Issue 195: Understanding the evolution and stability of diversity in microbial communities, especially in the presence of ample antagonistic interactions, has been an important problem in theoretical biology. In our recent work, we explored the dynamics of diversity and stability in microbial assemblages using a trait-focused agent-based model that takes into account a continuous species space, higher-order interaction among microbes and a range of mutational regimes. On this cover, we depict the growth of their microbial model in the space around the text. Color is used to represent microbial species, and the colors change as the microbes interact and mutate on the lattice. The particular parameters for this simulation result in a static and stable final state, but simple interaction rules embedded in their model can capture a range of dynamic behaviours. Although our model was aimed at answering questions in microbial assemblages, several elements, such as the inclusion of direct and indirect ecological interactions, the interplay of multiple cell lineages, and spatio-temporal heterogeneity in the community, make the model a general framework for investigating diverse biological systems, including oncological ones.

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