Abstracts (first author)

Talk Distinguished Fellow

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Author(s): Hoekstra R


Over a timespan of some 30 years I have intermittently worked on understanding the origin of sexual asymmetry. I greatly enjoyed it, but the problem remains…

Abstracts (coauthor)


The cells of a multicellular individual face the social dilemma of potentially increasing their personal fitness by increased reproduction at the cost of fitness of the multicellular individual. Organisms capable of somatic fusion are most sensitive to this somatic parasitism, since parasitic mutant cells can infect other individuals. Allorecognition, found in many multicellular organisms, limits the spread of somatic parasites. However, previous models have not satisfactorily demonstrated that this long-term benefit is sufficient to offset immediate disadvantages of reduced fusion experienced by new, initially rare, allorecognition types. Using a cellular automaton approach, we model the joint evolution of allorecognition and somatic parasitism in a multicellular organism resembling an asexual ascomycete fungus. Individuals can fuse with neighboring individuals, but only if they have the same allotype. Fusion with a parasite decreases the total reproductive output of the individual, but the parasite compensates for this individual fitness reduction by a disproportional share of the offspring. Our study shows that the mere threat of parasitism can select for high allorecognition diversity, which on its turn provides efficient protection against invasion of somatic parasites. Moderate population viscosity combined with weak global dispersal provided the best conditions for the joint evolution of allorecognition and stable multicellularity.


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XIV Congress of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology

Organization Team
Department of Animal Biology (DBA)
Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon
P-1749-016 Lisbon


Computational Biology & Population Genomics Group