With a little help from my friends: cooperation can accelerate the rate of adaptive valley crossing
Published on 2017-06-17T05:00:00Z (GMT) by
Abstract Background Natural selection favors changes that lead to genotypes possessing high fitness. A conflict arises when several mutations are required for adaptation, but each mutation is separately deleterious. The process of a population evolving from a genotype encoding for a local fitness maximum to a higher fitness genotype is termed an adaptive peak shift. Results Here we suggest cooperative behavior as a factor that can facilitate adaptive peak shifts. We model cooperation in a public goods scenario, wherein each individual contributes resources that are later equally redistributed among all cooperating individuals. We use mathematical modeling and stochastic simulations to study the effect of cooperation on peak shifts in both panmictic and structured populations. Our results show that cooperation can substantially affect the rate of complex adaptation. Furthermore, we show that cooperation increases the population diversity throughout the peak shift process, thus increasing the robustness of the population to sudden environmental changes. Conclusions We provide a new explanation to adaptive valley crossing in natural populations and suggest that the long term evolution of a species depends on its social behavior.
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Obolski, Uri; Lewin-Epstein, Ohad; Even-Tov, Eran; Ram, Yoav; Hadany, Lilach (2017): With a little help from my friends: cooperation can accelerate the rate of adaptive valley crossing. figshare.