Sex causes altruism. Altruism causes sex. Maybe.

Peck, Joel R (2004) Sex causes altruism. Altruism causes sex. Maybe. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 271 (1543). pp. 993-1000. ISSN 0962-8452

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This study presents a mathematical model in which the fitness of an individual depends on the individual's genotype (individual effects) and on the genotypes of other members of the individual's local group (group effects). The findings suggest that, if phenotypes are a result of complex interactions between genes at different loci, then fitness–enhancing group effects may become common in sexual populations. The spread of fitness–enhancing group effects is facilitated when environmental conditions sometimes deteriorate temporarily. This is so even if the genotypes with the highest group effects also tend to have relatively low individual effects. In this sense, the process described here can lead to the evolution of altruism. By contrast, when populations are asexual it appears that group effects are much less important in determining the outcome of evolution. Thus, in nature, asexual populations may tend to be characterized by more antagonistic interactions than those that typically prevail when reproduction is sexual. This might help to explain why asexual lineages are prone to rapid extinction.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Group selection for "altruism" is usually thought to be effective only if subpopulations are very small. This paper shows that group selection can operate effectively in large population if there are complex interactions between different genetic loci. The paper also provides a new hypothesis for the evolution of sexual reproduction.
Keywords: evolution of sex; epistasis; altruism; population genetics; group selection
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Biology and Environmental Science
Depositing User: Joel Peck
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:20
Last Modified: 02 Aug 2018 15:59
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