I know that some bacteria become competent when there is not much food available in their environment.

I don't really understand why this is useful for the cell. I've seen some other organisms form a biofilm or get together to become a slime when starved and I understand the utility of this mechanisms (reducing energy consumption and being able to move around easily to look for nutrients).

The only plausible explanation that I see is that being competent might be useful to take advantage of the DNA of dead cells. Am I right?

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    $\begingroup$ The wikipedia article you link gives four current hypotheses: genetic diversity, "DNA as food," repair of DNA damage and Horizontal gene transfer. Are you looking for additional hypotheses, or a clarification of what's in the article? $\endgroup$ – AJK Mar 28 '17 at 15:40
  • $\begingroup$ @AJK I would like some clarification. For instance I don't understand the "DNA as food" hypothesis. In my understanding if all the cells became competent then there would be no available DNA in the medium they're growing in and they would die, making one of the above forms (biofilm - slime) preferable. $\endgroup$ – A. A. Mar 28 '17 at 20:55

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