Non-equilibrium phase transitions from survival to extinction have recently been observed in computational models of evolutionary dynamics. Dynamical signatures predictive of population collapse have been observed in yeast populations under stress. We experimentally investigate the population response of the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to biological stressors (temperature and salt concentration) in order to investigate the system's behaviour in the vicinity of population collapse. While both conditions lead to population decline, the dynamical characteristics of the population response differ significantly depending on the stressor. Under temperature stress, the population undergoes a sharp change with significant fluctuations within a critical temperature range, indicative of a continuous absorbing phase transition. In the case of salt stress, the response is more gradual. A similar range of response is observed with the application of various antibiotics to Escherichia coli, with a variety of patterns of decreased growth in response to antibiotic stress both within and across antibiotic classes and mechanisms of action. These findings have implications for the identification of critical tipping points for populations under environmental stress.
Royal Society Open Science
Ordway, Stephen; King, Dawn; Friend, David; Noto, Christine; Phu, Snowlee; Huelskamp, Holly; Inglis, Fredrik; Olivas, Wendy; and Bahar, Sonya, "Phase transition behaviour in yeast and bacterial populations under stress" (2020). Biology Department Faculty Works. 71.
Available at: https://irl.umsl.edu/biology-faculty/71