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Genetic polymorphisms between altruism and selfishness close to the Hamilton threshold rb = c

Sibly, R. M. and Curnow, R. N. (2017) Genetic polymorphisms between altruism and selfishness close to the Hamilton threshold rb = c. Royal Society Open Science, 4 (2). 160649. ISSN 2054-5703

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1098/rsos.160649


Genes that in certain conditions make their carriers altruistic are being identified, and altruism and selfishness have been shown to be heritable in man. This raises the possibility that genetic polymorphisms for altruism/selfishness exist in man and other animals. Here we characterise some of the conditions in which genetic polymorphisms may occur. We show for dominant or recessive alleles how the positions of stable equilibria depend on the benefit to the recipient, b, and the cost to the altruist, c, for diploid altruists helping half or full sibs, and haplodiploid altruists helping sisters. Stable polymorphisms always occur close to the Hamilton threshold rb = c. The position of the stable equilibrium moves away 0 or 1 with both increases in c, the cost paid by the altruist, and increasing divergence from the Hamilton threshold, and alleles for selfishness can reach frequencies around 50%. We evaluate quantitative estimates of b, c and r from field studies in the light of these predictions, but the values do not fall in the regions where genetic polymorphisms are expected. Nevertheless it will be interesting to see as genes for altruism are discovered whether they are accompanied by alternate alleles for selfishness.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:69107
Publisher:The Royal Society


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