A new discovery by University of Western Ontario scientist Graham Thompson claims to be conclusive evidence that the 'selfish gene', introduced conceptually in 1976 by British biologist Richard Dawkins, isn't just accepted as a natural extension to the works of Charles Darwin, but is now confirmed.
In studying genomes, the word 'selfish' does not refer to the human-describing adjective of self-centered behavior but rather to the blind tendency of genes wanting to continue their existence into the next generation. Ironically, this 'selfish' tendency can appear anything but selfish when the gene does move ahead for selfless and even self-sacrificing reasons.
For instance, in the honey bee colony, a complex social breeding system described as a 'super-organism,' the female worker bees are sterile. The adult queen bee, selected and developed by the worker bees, is left to mate with the male drones.
Because the 'selfish' gene controlling worker sterility has never been isolated by scientists, the understanding of how reproductive altruism can evolve has been entirely theoretical – until now.
Working with Peter Oxley of the University of Sydney in Australia, Thompson has, for the first time-ever, isolated a region on the honey bee genome that houses this 'selfish' gene in female workers bees.
This means that the 'selfish' gene does exist, not just in theory but in reality. "We don't know exactly which gene it is, but we're getting close."
"This basically provides a validation for a huge body of socio-biology," says Thompson, who adds the completion of Honey Bee Genome Project in 2006 was crucial to this discovery.
The research will be published in the July issue of Genetics.
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Part II: Bee Deaths And CCD - Flawed Chensheng Lu Harvard Studies Endanger Bees
- Part I: Bee Deaths Mystery Solved? Neonicotinoids (Neonics) May Actually Help Bee Health
- Surveys Show Global Warming Belief Doesn't Change With The Weather
- The BPA Paradox – Too Many Studies?
- Reasons Serious Scientists Should Not Fear The Winnower and other OA Open Review Journals.
- Education: Stop New Age Thinking, Chalk And Talk Might Be The Best Way After All
- Big Data Could Be A Big Problem For Workplace Discrimination Law
- "Where's the beef?..."
- "Your statement is outrageous. What mistake have I made? Please elaborate. The scientists quoted..."
- "I think that is due to the Winnower being in Beta. ..."
- "Jon, I think that with all due respect you have made a serious mistake with this article which..."
- "I am a leftist. I am for a revenue-nuetral carbon tax. Having the CO2 externalities part of the..."
- Lancet article: Afferent's P2X3 inhibitor shows 75 percent reduction in chronic cough frequency
- News from Annals of Internal Medicine Supplement
- Boy moms more social in chimpanzees
- Unmanned underwater vehicle provides first 3-D images of underside of Antarctic sea ice
- CT scans of coral skeletons reveal ocean acidity increases reef erosion