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Science. 2003 Jan 3;299(5603):105-6.

Single-gene greenbeard effects in the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolution, MS-170, Rice University, Post Office Box 1892, Houston, TX 77251-1892, USA.


Selection can favor reproductive altruism if an altruism allele aids copies of itself by helping relatives. The alternative "greenbeard" mechanism, in which an allele directly recognizes and aids copies of itself in others, is generally thought to be too complex for a single gene to carry out. The csA gene in Dictyostelium discoideum acts as a single-gene greenbeard. When wild-type cells are mixed with csA-knockout cells, the wild type is more altruistic, but is also able preferentially to direct the benefits to other wild-type cells. Both properties derive directly from homophilic cell adhesion of the protein encoded by csA.

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