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Frequency-dependent selection at rough expanding fronts

Kuhr, Jan-Timm; Stark, Holger

FG Statistische Physik weicher Materie und biologischer Systeme

Microbial colonies are experimental model systems for studying the colonization of new territory by biological species through range expansion. We study a generalization of the two-species Eden model, which incorporates local frequency-dependent selection, in order to analyze how social interactions between two species influence surface roughness of growing microbial colonies. The model includes several classical scenarios from game theory. We then concentrate on an expanding public goods game, where either cooperators or defectors take over the front depending on the system parameters. We analyze in detail the critical behavior of the nonequilibrium phase transition between global cooperation and defection and thereby identify a new universality class of phase transitions dealing with absorbing states. At the transition, the number of boundaries separating sectors decays with a novel power law in time and their superdiffusive motion crosses over from Eden scaling to a nearly ballistic regime. In parallel, the width of the front initially obeys Eden roughening and, at later times, passes over to selective roughening.