EF45 – Multi-Agent Social Systems



The Impact of Dormancy on the Evolutionary, Ecological and
Pathogenic Properties of Microbial Populations

Project Heads

Jochen Blath, Maite Wilke Berenguer

Project Members

Tobias Paul (HU)

Project Duration

01.04.2021 − 31.03.2024

Located at

HU Berlin


Dormancy is an ubiquitous trait in microbial communities. It describes the ability of an organism to switch into a metabolically inactive and protected state, for example in response to environmental stress. Dormancy has important implications for the evolutionary, ecological and pathogenic character of microbial systems. This project derives and analyses new stochastic individual based models for the dynamics of dormancy-exhibiting biological systems.

We pursue two larger goals: On one hand, we aim to understand the influence of dormany on patterns of genetic diversity through the tools of population genetics, deriving as scaling limits from individual based models dual pairs of processes of diffusions and coalescents that incorporate feaures such as varying population size.
On the other hand we study  invasion, fixation and coexistence regimes withing the framework of adaptive dynamics, again, based on individual based models and there many particle limits.


In our preprint [6] we investigated an individual based model with rare mutations. There, we found numerous effects of introducing a competition-induced dormancy mechanism into a preexisting model. For example, dormancy may favour the emergence of evolutionary branching, it may increase (or decrease) the speed of adaptation, dormancy increases the width of niches occupied by subspecies and dormancy may enable alternative mutational pathways in the trait space.

External Website

Related Publications

  1. Principles of seed banks and the complexity emerging from dormancy, Nature Communications 12, 4807, (2021)
    J. T. Lennon, F. den Hollander, M. Wilke Berenguer, J. Blath
  2. The interplay of dormancy and transfer in bacterial populations: Invasion, fixation and coexistence regimes, Theoretical Population Biology 139, 18-49, (2021)
    J. Blath, A. Tóbiás
  3. Virus dynamics in the presence of contact-mediated host-dormancy, preprint (2021)
    J. Blath,  A. Tóbiás
  4. A stochastic adaptive dynamics model for bacterial populations with mutation, dormancy and transfer, Latin American Journal of Probability and Mathematical Statistics 20, 313-357 (2023)
    J. Blath, T. Paul, A. Tóbiás.
  5. Lambda-coalescents arising in populations with dormancy, Electronic Journal of Probability 27, (2022)
    F. Cordero, A. González Casanova, J. Schweinsberg, M. Wilke-Berenguer
  6. The impact of dormancy on evolutionary branching, preprint, (2022)
    J. Blath, T. Paul, A.Tóbiás, M. Wilke-Berenguer

Related Pictures

A simulation of our model presented in [6] featuring evolutionary branching. The image shows the population size of given traits over time where the size is indicated by colour.

Simulation of the model in [6] exhibiting a “tunneling” effect as mechanism for branching