Fair and foul are next of kin: Self/nonself recognition
and the evolution of individuality in colonial marine invertebrates
University of California, Davis
Wednesday, May 24, 2000
3:00 p.m.—Pacific Forum
When most of us think about the ecological arena in which natural
selection operates, we envision a domain external to competing organisms.
We make this assumption largely because for us, and many of the organisms
we study, the somatic and genetic perfectly correspond (or so we think).
This correspondence, however, must represent an evolutionarily derived
state of affairs. In fact, the path to the evolution of stable,
multicellular life cycles—what we think of as individuality—must have
been filled with ongoing cycles of conflict, cooperation, cheating, and
conflict resolution. Three odd and ubiquitous features of multicellular
life cycles can be understood in terms of conflict resolution: meiosis, a
unicellular bottleneck, and self/nonself recognition.
In this seminar, I explore the role of self/nonself recognition systems
in the evolution and maintenance of individuality by focusing on the
organisms such as colonial marine invertebrates, whose life cycles
challenge our conventional notions of individuality.
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Last updated: December 19, 2000