Preprint Concept Paper Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Metabolic Heat in Microbial Conflict and Cooperation

Version 1 : Received: 11 May 2020 / Approved: 12 May 2020 / Online: 12 May 2020 (12:38:25 CEST)
Version 2 : Received: 15 July 2020 / Approved: 17 July 2020 / Online: 17 July 2020 (09:35:22 CEST)

How to cite: Frank, S.A. Metabolic Heat in Microbial Conflict and Cooperation. Preprints 2020, 2020050211. Frank, S.A. Metabolic Heat in Microbial Conflict and Cooperation. Preprints 2020, 2020050211.


Many microbes live in habitats below their optimum temperature. Retention of metabolic heat by aggregation or insulation would boost growth. Generation of excess metabolic heat may also provide benefit. A cell that makes excess metabolic heat pays the cost of production, whereas the benefit may be shared by neighbors within a zone of local heat capture. Metabolic heat as a shareable public good raises interesting questions about conflict and cooperation of heat production and capture. Metabolic heat may also be deployed as a weapon. Species with greater thermotolerance gain by raising local temperature to outcompete less thermotolerant taxa. Metabolic heat may provide defense against bacteriophage attack, by analogy with fever in vertebrates. This article outlines the theory of metabolic heat in microbial conflict and cooperation, presenting several predictions for future study.


Thermoregulation; microbial metabolism; overflow metabolism; biofilms; public goods; social evolution; ecological competition; fever; bacteriophage defense


Biology and Life Sciences, Immunology and Microbiology

Comments (0)

We encourage comments and feedback from a broad range of readers. See criteria for comments and our Diversity statement.

Leave a public comment
Send a private comment to the author(s)
* All users must log in before leaving a comment
Views 0
Downloads 0
Comments 0
Metrics 0

Notify me about updates to this article or when a peer-reviewed version is published.
We use cookies on our website to ensure you get the best experience.
Read more about our cookies here.