Applying the handicap principle to biofilms

Signals involved in biofilm formation are often studied from a mechanistic perspective, which emphasizes their population-level effects. By adopting an informational perspective of signaling, we highlight the overlooked possibility that secreted factors which coordinate biofilm formation and facilitate interspecies competition, may also facilitate competition within the biofilm. We would like to acknowledge the late Prof. Amotz Zahavi, an inspiring mentor who imparted numerous thought-provoking discussions bridging zoology, ecology and microbiology in this Environmental Microbiology mini review.