Molecular ecology uses molecular genetic data to answer traditional ecological questions in biogeography and biodiversity, among others. Several ecological principles, such as the niche hypothesis and the competitive exclusions, are based on the fact that species compete for resources. More in generally, it is now recognized that species interactions play a crucial role in determining the coexistence and abundance of species. However, experimentally controllable platforms, which allow us to study and measure competitions among species, are rare and difficult to implement. In this work, we suggest exploiting a Molecular Dynamics coarse-grained model to study interactions among single strands of DNA, representing individuals of different species, which compete for binding to other oligomers considered as resources. In particular, the well-established knowledge of DNA-DNA interactions at the nanoscale allows us to test the hypothesis that the maximum consecutive overlap between pairs of oligomers measure the species' competitive advantages. However, we suggest that a more complex structure also plays a role in the ability of the species to successfully bind to the target resource oligomer. We complement the simulations with experiments on populations of DNA strands which qualitatively confirm our hypotheses. These tools constitute a promising starting point for further developments concerning the study of controlled, DNA-based, artificial ecosystems.

OxDNA to Study Species Interactions

Paraboschi, Elvezia Maria;
2022

Abstract

Molecular ecology uses molecular genetic data to answer traditional ecological questions in biogeography and biodiversity, among others. Several ecological principles, such as the niche hypothesis and the competitive exclusions, are based on the fact that species compete for resources. More in generally, it is now recognized that species interactions play a crucial role in determining the coexistence and abundance of species. However, experimentally controllable platforms, which allow us to study and measure competitions among species, are rare and difficult to implement. In this work, we suggest exploiting a Molecular Dynamics coarse-grained model to study interactions among single strands of DNA, representing individuals of different species, which compete for binding to other oligomers considered as resources. In particular, the well-established knowledge of DNA-DNA interactions at the nanoscale allows us to test the hypothesis that the maximum consecutive overlap between pairs of oligomers measure the species' competitive advantages. However, we suggest that a more complex structure also plays a role in the ability of the species to successfully bind to the target resource oligomer. We complement the simulations with experiments on populations of DNA strands which qualitatively confirm our hypotheses. These tools constitute a promising starting point for further developments concerning the study of controlled, DNA-based, artificial ecosystems.
ecological competition
molecular dynamics
single-stranded DNA
Physics - Biological Physics
Physics - Biological Physics
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11699/66292
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