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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Jun 13;103(24):9113-7. Epub 2006 Jun 2.

The group covariance effect and fitness trade-offs during evolutionary transitions in individuality.

Author information

  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA. michod@u.arizona.edu

Abstract

Transforming our understanding of life is the realization that evolution occurs not only among individuals within populations but also through the integration of groups of preexisting individuals into a new higher-level individual, that is, through evolutionary transitions in individuality. During evolutionary transitions (such as during the origin of gene networks, bacteria-like cells, eukaryotic cells, multicellular organisms, and societies), fitness must be reorganized; specifically, it must be transferred from the lower- to the higher-level units and partitioned among the lower-level units that specialize in the fitness components of the new higher-level individual. This paper studies the role of fitness trade-offs in fitness reorganization, the evolution of cooperation, and the conversion of a group into a new individual during the origin of multicellular life. Specifically, this study shows that the fitness of the group is augmented over the average fitness of its members according to a covariance effect. This covariance effect appears to be one of the first emergent properties of the group and a general aspect of groups with multiplicative properties that are themselves averages of properties of lower-level units. The covariance effect allows groups to break through the constraints that govern their members, and this effect likely applies to group dynamics in other fields.

PMID:
16751277
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1482575
Free PMC Article
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