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Ford Denison

What happens when a mutant Burkholderia arises that doesn't make the toxin? The reduced metabolic cost should make the mutant spread within a host fungus. The host might be more likely to die, and the Burkholderia might die without its host, but evolution has no foresight. What fraction of symbiotic Burkholderia make the toxin, in nature? Does that represent a balance between within-host selection against toxin production and between-host selection for toxin production? Or is there some within-host mechanism that maintains toxin production, like the host sanctions we've found against rhizobia that fix little or no nitrogen?

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