Resource scarcity is a common stress in nature and has a major impact on microbial physiology. This review highlights microbial acclimations to resource scarcity, focusing on resource investment strategies for chemoheterotrophs from the molecular level to the pathway level. Competitive resource allocation strategies often lead to a phenotype known as overflow metabolism; the resulting overflow byproducts can stabilize cooperative interactions in microbial communities and can lead to cross-feeding consortia. These consortia can exhibit emergent properties such as enhanced resource usage and biomass productivity. The literature distilled here draws parallels between in silico and laboratory studies and ties them together with ecological theories to better understand microbial stress responses and mutualistic consortia functioning.

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