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Do Somatic Cells Really Sacrifice Themselves? Why an Appeal to Coercion May be a Helpful Strategy in Explaining the Evolution of Multicellularity

Stencel, Adrian and Suárez, Javier (2021) Do Somatic Cells Really Sacrifice Themselves? Why an Appeal to Coercion May be a Helpful Strategy in Explaining the Evolution of Multicellularity. Biological Theory. ISSN 1555-5550

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Abstract

An understanding of the factors behind the evolution of multicellularity is one of today’s frontiers in evolutionary biology. This is because multicellular organisms are made of one subset of cells with the capacity to transmit genes to the next generation (germline cells) and another subset responsible for maintaining the functionality of the organism, but incapable of transmitting genes to the next generation (somatic cells). The question arises: why do somatic cells sacrifice their lives for the sake of germline cells? How is germ/soma separation maintained? One conventional answer refers to inclusive fitness theory, according to which somatic cells sacrifice themselves altruistically, because in so doing they enhance the transmission of their genes by virtue of their genetic relatedness to germline cells. In the present article we will argue that this explanation ignores the key role of policing mechanisms in maintaining the germ/soma divide. Based on the pervasiveness of the latter, we argue that the role of altruistic mechanisms in the evolution of multicellularity is limited and that our understanding of this evolution must be enriched through the consideration of coercion mechanisms.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Stencel, Adrianadstencel@gmail.com0000-0002-3933-2059
Suárez, Javierjavier.suarez@uj.edu.pl0000-0001-5851-2277
Keywords: Altruism Evolution of multicellularity Kin selection Major transitions in evolution Microbiome
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Developmental Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Depositing User: Dr Javier Suárez
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2021 04:22
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2021 04:22
Item ID: 18814
Journal or Publication Title: Biological Theory
Publisher: Springer
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13752-021-00376-9
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Developmental Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Date: 9 March 2021
ISSN: 1555-5550
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/18814

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