Cooperation and selfishness both occur during molecular evolution

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Abstract

Perhaps the 'selfish' aspect of evolution has been over-emphasised, and organisms considered as basically selfish. However, at the macromolecular level of genes and proteins the cooperative aspect of evolution is more obvious and balances this self-centred aspect. Thousands of proteins must function together in an integrated manner to use and to produce the many molecules necessary for a functioning cell. The macromolecules have no idea whether they are functioning cooperatively or competitively with other genes and gene products (such as proteins). The cell is a giant cooperative system of thousands of genes/proteins that function together, even if it has to simultaneously resist 'parasites'. There are extensive examples of cooperative behavior among genes and proteins in both functioning cells and in the origin of life, so this cooperative nature, along with selfishness, must be considered part of normal evolution. The principles also apply to very large numbers of examples of 'positive interactions' between organisms, including both eukaryotes and akaryotes (prokaryotes). This does not negate in any way the 'selfishness' of genes - but macromolecules have no idea when they are helping, or hindering, other groups of macromolecules. We need to assert more strongly that genes, and gene products, function together as a cooperative unit.

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APA

Penny, D. (2015). Cooperation and selfishness both occur during molecular evolution. Biology Direct. BioMed Central Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13062-014-0026-5

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