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Selfish genetic elements favor the evolution of a distinction between soma and germline

Johnson, L. J. ORCID: (2008) Selfish genetic elements favor the evolution of a distinction between soma and germline. Evolution, 62 (8). pp. 2122-2124. ISSN 0014-3820

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2008.00433.x


Many multicellular organisms have evolved a dedicated germline. This can benefit the whole organism, but its advantages to genetic parasites have not been explored. Here I model the evolutionary success of a selfish element, such as a transposable element or endosymbiont, which is capable of creating or strengthening a germline-soma distinction in a primitively multicellular host, and find that it will always benefit the element to do so. Genes causing germline sequestration can therefore spread in a population even if germline sequestration is maladaptive for the host organism. Costly selfish elements are expected to survive only in sexual populations, so sexual species may experience an additional push toward germline-soma distinction, and hence toward cell differentiation and multicellularity.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences
ID Code:9824
Uncontrolled Keywords:evolutionary transitions, intragenomic conflict, multicellularity, TRANSPOSABLE ELEMENTS, POPULATIONS, CONFLICT, NUCLEAR, SEX, DNA

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