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?
- Intellectually Gifted Kids And Learning Disabilities Often Go Hand In Hand
- Another One Bites The Dust - WW Cross Section Gets Back Where It Belongs
- Yawunik Kootenayi - Lobster With Two Sets Of Eyes From 500,000,000 B.C.
- Why It Took Big Humans To Populate Europe
- When Does Quantum Mechanics Become Classical Physics?
- NRDC Says Your Xbox Is Causing Global Warming - But It Isn't
- How To Save Formula 1
- "The internal review was by an environmentalist who used to work at Quaker Oats and the computer..."
- "Hank,Maybe your Pooh cartoon is more apt than you realize. To quote from the Latin version..."
- "I was one of those kids. My learning disabilities were not diagnosed until I was in graduate school..."
- "Unfortunately, the sloppy research here is all on Mr. Campbell. NRDC’s game console study was..."
- "Based on the fact that the children are probably ALL asynchronous learners and that everyone's..."