Cooperative metabolic resource allocation in spatially-structured systems

David Tourigny*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Natural selection has shaped the evolution of cells and multi-cellular organisms such that social cooperation can often be preferred over an individualistic approach to metabolic regulation. This paper extends a framework for dynamic metabolic resource allocation based on the maximum entropy principle to spatiotemporal models of metabolism with cooperation. Much like the maximum entropy principle encapsulates ‘bet-hedging’ behaviour displayed by organisms dealing with future uncertainty in a fluctuating environment, its cooperative extension describes how individuals adapt their metabolic resource allocation strategy to further accommodate limited knowledge about the welfare of others within a community. The resulting theory explains why local regulation of metabolic cross-feeding can fulfil a community-wide metabolic objective if individuals take into consideration an ensemble measure of total population performance as the only form of global information. The latter is likely supplied by quorum sensing in microbial systems or signalling molecules such as hormones in multi-cellular eukaryotic organisms.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Mathematical Biology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Metabolism
  • Elementary flux mode
  • Flux balance analysis
  • Optimal control
  • Maximum entropy
  • Information theory
  • Social welfare


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