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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2014 Mar 31;369(1642):20130423. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2013.0423. Print 2014 May 19.

Joint phenotypes, evolutionary conflict and the fundamental theorem of natural selection.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Washington University in St Louis, , St Louis, MO 63130, USA.


Multiple organisms can sometimes affect a common phenotype. For example, the portion of a leaf eaten by an insect is a joint phenotype of the plant and insect and the amount of food obtained by an offspring can be a joint trait with its mother. Here, I describe the evolution of joint phenotypes in quantitative genetic terms. A joint phenotype for multiple species evolves as the sum of additive genetic variances in each species, weighted by the selection on each species. Selective conflict between the interactants occurs when selection takes opposite signs on the joint phenotype. The mean fitness of a population changes not just through its own genetic variance but also through the genetic variance for its fitness that resides in other species, an update of Fisher's fundamental theorem of natural selection. Some similar results, using inclusive fitness, apply to within-species interactions. The models provide a framework for understanding evolutionary conflicts at all levels.


arms race; evolutionary conflict; fundamental theorem of natural selection; inclusive fitness; joint phenotypes; mutualism

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