Journal article

Persistence as an optimal hedging strategy

Alexander Browning, Jesse Sharp, Tarunendu Mapder, Christopher Baker, Kevin Burrage, Matthew Simpson

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory | Published : 2019

Abstract

Bacteria invest in a slow-growing subpopulation, called persisters, to ensure survival in the face of uncertainty. This hedging strategy is remarkably similar to financial hedging, where diversifying an investment portfolio protects against economic uncertainty. We provide a new theoretical foundation for understanding cellular hedging by unifying the study of biological population dynamics and the mathematics of financial risk management through optimal control theory. Motivated by the widely accepted role of volatility in the emergence of persistence, we consider several novel models of environmental volatility described by continuous-time stochastic processes. This allows us to study an e..

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