Summary: Simple models of growth, nutrient utilization, product formation and inhibitor action are used to show that two populations competing for a single nutrient which is limiting their rates of growth can coexist in an ideal chemostat if at least one of the populations produces an autoinhibitor. Production of a substance that is not autoinhibitory but inhibits instead the competitor population (antagonism) will not allow coexistence but can give a population a chance to exclude its competitor under conditions where it would otherwise be excluded by the competitor. These results show that production of autoinhibitors can play an important role in maintaining the species diversity of microbial ecosystems.


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