Evolutionary theory

  • Review Article
    | Open Access

    Seed banks are generated when individuals enter a dormant state, a phenomenon that has evolved among diverse taxa, but that is also found in stem cells, brains, and tumors. Here, Lennon et al. synthesize the fundamentals of seed-bank theory and the emergence of complex patterns and dynamics in mathematics and the life sciences.

    • Jay T. Lennon
    • , Frank den Hollander
    •  & Jochen Blath
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The virulence of some infectious diseases seems to depend on the sex of the host the infection came from, as well as that of the current host. Here, McLeod et al. develop an epidemiological model to investigate the evolution of virulence when pathogens can retain epigenetic memories of their previous host.

    • David V. McLeod
    • , Geoff Wild
    •  & Francisco Úbeda
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Population structure can influence the probability of and time to fixation of new mutants. Here, Tkadlec et al. demonstrate mathematically that structures that increase fixation probability necessarily slow fixation, but also identify amplifying structures with minimal reductions in fixation time.

    • Josef Tkadlec
    • , Andreas Pavlogiannis
    •  & Martin A. Nowak
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Obscuring knowledge of personal gains from individuals can theoretically maintain fairness in a cooperative group. Experiments show that wild, cooperatively breeding banded mongooses uncertain of kinship allocate postnatal care in a way that reduces inequality among offspring, suggesting a classic idea of moral philosophy can apply in biological systems.

    • H. H. Marshall
    • , R. A. Johnstone
    •  & M. A. Cant
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The ‘invariant rate of ageing’ hypothesis suggests that the rate of ageing tends to be constant within species. Here, Colchero et al. find support for the hypothesis across primates, including humans, suggesting biological constraints on the rate of ageing.

    • Fernando Colchero
    • , José Manuel Aburto
    •  & Susan C. Alberts
  • Perspective
    | Open Access

    Effective biological engineering requires the acknowledgement of evolution and its consideration during the design process. In this perspective, the authors present the concept of the evotype to reason about and shape the evolutionary potential of natural and engineered biosystems.

    • Simeon D. Castle
    • , Claire S. Grierson
    •  & Thomas E. Gorochowski
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Social interaction outcomes can depend on the type of information individuals possess and how it is used in decision-making. Here, Zhou et al. find that self-evaluation based decision-making rules lead to evolutionary outcomes that are robust to different population structures and ways of self-evaluation.

    • Lei Zhou
    • , Bin Wu
    •  & Long Wang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    While there is strong evidence that many mutualisms evolved from antagonism, how or why remains unclear. A study combining theory and a data-based model sheds light on how mutualisms evolve without extremely tight host fidelity and how ecological context affects evolutionary outcomes and vice-versa.

    • Christopher A. Johnson
    • , Gordon P. Smith
    •  & Régis Ferrière
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The evolution of multicellular life is hypothesized to have been promoted by rising oxygen levels. Through experimental evolution and modeling, Bozdag et al. demonstrate that our planet’s first oxygenation would have strongly constrained, not promoted, the evolution of multicellular life.

    • G. Ozan Bozdag
    • , Eric Libby
    •  & William C. Ratcliff
  • Article
    | Open Access

    A fundamental principle of evolutionary theory is that the force of natural selection is weaker on traits expressed late in life relative to traits expressed early. Here, the authors find strong and consistent patterns of molecular evolution reflecting this principle in four species of animals, including humans.

    • Changde Cheng
    •  & Mark Kirkpatrick
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Both ecological opportunity and phenotypic modularity have been suggested to facilitate adaptive radiations. Feiner et al. show that Anolis lizards evolved a new modularity structure in their island adaptive radiation, but that this modularity did not produce the same extreme diversification when Anolis returned to the mainland.

    • Nathalie Feiner
    • , Illiam S. C. Jackson
    •  & Tobias Uller
  • Article
    | Open Access

    As spiteful behaviors harm both the actor and the target, it is challenging to understand how these behaviors could be adaptive. Here Fulker et al. show that spite can be favored by feedbacks with network structure that create correlated and anti-correlated behavioral interactions simultaneously.

    • Zachary Fulker
    • , Patrick Forber
    •  & Christoph Riedl
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Game theory has contributed much to the understanding of social evolution. In an elegant combination of experimental tests and modelling, this study suggests that when bacteria face intense competition, repeated retaliation outcompetes a single tit-for-tat response to attack.

    • William P. J. Smith
    • , Maj Brodmann
    •  & Kevin R. Foster
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Most evolutionary game theory focuses on isolated games. Here, Donahue et al. present a general framework for ‘multichannel games’ in which individuals engage in a set of parallel games with a partner, and show that such parallel interactions favor the evolution of reciprocity across games.

    • Kate Donahue
    • , Oliver P. Hauser
    •  & Christian Hilbe
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Multicellularity is one of the major transitions in evolution. Here, authors use a model to show that compared to unicellular bacteria, multicellular fungi can more rapidly colonise immobile, nutrient poor resources because exoenzymes provide greater or longer lasting benefits to mycelial organisms.

    • Luke L. M. Heaton
    • , Nick S. Jones
    •  & Mark D. Fricker
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Models of the origin of life generally require a mechanism to structure emerging populations. Here, Krieger et al. develop spatial models showing that coherent structures arising in turbulent flows in aquatic environments could have provided compartments that facilitated the origin of life.

    • Madison S. Krieger
    • , Sam Sinai
    •  & Martin A. Nowak
  • Article
    | Open Access

    High-throughput combinatorial mutagenesis assays are useful to screen the function of many different sequences but they are not exhaustive. Here, Zhou and McCandlish develop a method to impute such missing genotype-phenotype data based on inferring the least epistatic sequence-function relationship.

    • Juannan Zhou
    •  & David M. McCandlish
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Quantifying somatic evolutionary processes in cancer and healthy tissue is a challenge. Here, the authors use single time point multi-region sampling of cancer and normal tissue, combined with evolutionary theory, to quantify in vivo mutation and cell survival rates per cell division.

    • Benjamin Werner
    • , Jack Case
    •  & Andrea Sottoriva
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Strategic game payoffs often depend on the state of the environment, which in turn can be influenced by game strategies. Here, Tilman et al. develop a general framework for modeling strategic games with environmental feedbacks and analyze case studies from decision-making, ecology, and economics.

    • Andrew R. Tilman
    • , Joshua B. Plotkin
    •  & Erol Akçay
  • Article
    | Open Access

    A significant proportion of the molecular evolution of bacteria and archaea occurs through gene gain and loss. Here Iranzo et al. develop a mathematical model that explains observed differential patterns of sequence evolution vs. gene content evolution as a consequence of homologous recombination.

    • Jaime Iranzo
    • , Yuri I. Wolf
    •  & Itamar Sela
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The ‘parliament of genes’ hypothesis suggests that selfish genetic elements will be counteracted by suppressors that maintain equal transmission of the rest of the genome. Here, the authors find support for this hypothesis using mathematical models to explore a range of different scenarios.

    • Thomas W. Scott
    •  & Stuart A. West
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Models of mate choice have mainly focused on the implications of female mate choice for reproductive isolation. Here, Aubier et al. develop a population genetic model of coevolution between female and male mate choice, which can lead the population to oscillate between assortative and random mating.

    • Thomas G. Aubier
    • , Hanna Kokko
    •  & Mathieu Joron
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The spatial structure of a population is often critical for the evolution of cooperation. Here, Allen and colleagues show that when spatial structure is represented by an isothermal graph, the effective number of neighbors per individual determines whether or not cooperation can evolve.

    • Benjamin Allen
    • , Gabor Lippner
    •  & Martin A. Nowak
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The viviparity driven conflict hypothesis predicts the evolution of the placenta will suppress the evolution of traits associated with pre-copulatory mate choice and accelerate speciation rate. Furness et al. support the former and disprove the latter predictions with comparative analyses of the poecilid fishes.

    • Andrew I. Furness
    • , Bart J. A. Pollux
    •  & David N. Reznick
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Mutators are expected to re-evolve low mutation rates to reduce deleterious load, but empirical evidence is mixed. Here, the authors show that load can vary across mutators and genetic backgrounds, which their simulations suggest can substantially alter antimutator dynamics.

    • Alejandro Couce
    •  & Olivier Tenaillon
  • Article
    | Open Access

    In asexual populations selection at different genomic loci can interfere with each other. Here, using a biophysical model of molecular evolution the authors show that interference results in long-term degradation of molecular function, an effect that strongly depends on genome size.

    • Torsten Held
    • , Daniel Klemmer
    •  & Michael Lässig
  • Article
    | Open Access

    What drives changes in morphological diversity? Here, Arbour et al. analyse skull 3D shape evolution across the bat radiation using µCT scan data, finding two phases of skull shape diversification, early adaptive shifts related to echolocation, and more recent shifts related to diet transitions.

    • Jessica H. Arbour
    • , Abigail A. Curtis
    •  & Sharlene E. Santana
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Reversible phenotypic plasticity is expected to be favoured by long lifespan, as this increases the environmental variation individuals experience. Here, the authors develop a model showing how phenotypic plasticity can drive selection on lifespan, leading to coevolution of these traits.

    • Irja I. Ratikainen
    •  & Hanna Kokko
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The catalytic efficiency of many enzymes is lower than the theoretical maximum. Here, the authors combine genome-scale metabolic modeling with population genetics models to simulate enzyme evolution, and find that strong epistasis limits turnover numbers due to diminishing returns of fitness gains.

    • David Heckmann
    • , Daniel C. Zielinski
    •  & Bernhard O. Palsson
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Although men have lower survival across ages, women have poorer health than men as they age. Here, Archer et al. suggest that this pattern is explained by intralocus sexual conflict and provide supporting evidence from a mathematical model and experiments with Drosophila.

    • C. Ruth Archer
    • , Mario Recker
    •  & David J. Hosken
  • Review Article
    | Open Access

    Facilitation is a well-known ecological interaction among free-living species, but symbionts residing in or on a host can also positively affect other symbiont species. Here, the authors review examples of facilitation among symbionts, revealing how facilitation theory can improve understanding of these interactions.

    • Flore Zélé
    • , Sara Magalhães
    •  & Alison B. Duncan
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The degree to which species diversity is bounded by limited niche space is under debate. Here, Larcombe and colleagues show that bounded and unbounded processes contribute more-or-less equally to conifer diversification, and that it may be niche dimensionality that facilitates these opposing forces.

    • Matthew J. Larcombe
    • , Gregory J. Jordan
    •  & Steven I. Higgins
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The history and patterns of species diversity are shaped by a variety of ecological and evolutionary factors. Here, the authors develop a computational model to predict clade diversification dynamics and rates of speciation and extinction under the influences of resource competition, genetic differentiation, and random landscape fluctuation.

    • Robin Aguilée
    • , Fanny Gascuel
    •  & Regis Ferriere
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The evolution of cooperation depends on social structure, which may evolve in response. Here, Akçay models coevolution between cooperation and social network formation strategies, showing that coevolutionary feedbacks lead cooperation to collapse unless constrained by costs of social connections.

    • Erol Akçay
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Humans are known to use social heuristics to make intuitive decisions on whether to cooperate. Here, the authors show with evolutionary simulations that social heuristics can be an adaptive solution to uncertainties about the consequences of cooperation and can greatly increase cooperation levels.

    • Pieter van den Berg
    •  & Tom Wenseleers
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Energetic constraints produce a fundamental tradeoff in starvation and recovery rates, impacting eco-evolutionary dynamics. Here, Yeakel et al. develop a nutritional state-structured model that predicts population size as a function of body mass known as Damuth’s law, and a mechanism for Cope’s rule, the evolutionary trend towards larger body mass.

    • Justin D. Yeakel
    • , Christopher P. Kempes
    •  & Sidney Redner
  • Review Article
    | Open Access

    Gene expression and behaviours are intimately related, and their interactions can play out over timescales from developmental to evolutionary. Here, the authors review how temporal aspects of gene expression mediate behavioural responses to the environment, a key question in behavioural genomics.

    • Clare C. Rittschof
    •  & Kimberly A. Hughes
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Cross-cultural interactions can cause cultural change, a process known as acculturation. Here, Erten et al. develop a model of cultural change under immigration, considering individuals’ orientations towards acculturation, and find that willingness to interact cross-culturally and resident cultural conservatism favour cultural coexistence.

    • E. Yagmur Erten
    • , Pieter van den Berg
    •  & Franz J. Weissing
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Selection for recombination requires genetic diversity and negative linkage disequilibrium, which can be produced by coevolutionary arms races. Here the authors propose a qualitatively different scenario that can favour recombination in seasonal environments through the ‘genomic storage effect’.

    • Davorka Gulisija
    •  & Joshua B. Plotkin
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Microbes live in communities and exchange metabolites, but the resulting dynamics are poorly understood. Here, the authors study the interplay between metabolite production strategies and population dynamics, and find that complex and unexpected dynamics emerge even in simple microbial economies.

    • Yoav Kallus
    • , John H. Miller
    •  & Eric Libby