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Fair and foul are next of kin: Self/nonself recognition and the evolution of individuality in colonial marine invertebrates

Rick Grosberg
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