Biological Theory 16 (2):102-113 (2021)

Adrian Stencel
Jagiellonian University
Javier Suárez
Jagiellonian University
An understanding of the factors behind the evolution of multicellularity is one of today’s frontiers in evolutionary biology. This is because multicellular organisms are made of one subset of cells with the capacity to transmit genes to the next generation and another subset responsible for maintaining the functionality of the organism, but incapable of transmitting genes to the next generation. The question arises: why do somatic cells sacrifice their lives for the sake of germline cells? How is germ/soma separation maintained? One conventional answer refers to inclusive fitness theory, according to which somatic cells sacrifice themselves altruistically, because in so doing they enhance the transmission of their genes by virtue of their genetic relatedness to germline cells. In the present article we will argue that this explanation ignores the key role of policing mechanisms in maintaining the germ/soma divide. Based on the pervasiveness of the latter, we argue that the role of altruistic mechanisms in the evolution of multicellularity is limited and that our understanding of this evolution must be enriched through the consideration of coercion mechanisms.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s13752-021-00376-9
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Sociobiology: The New Synthesis.Edward O. Wilson - 1975 - Journal of the History of Biology 33 (3):577-584.
Evolution and the Levels of Selection.Samir Okasha - 2006 - Oxford University Press.
Evolution and the Levels of Selection.Samir Okasha - 2009 - Critica 41 (123):162-170.

View all 28 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Why Animals Have Tumours.Deng K. Niu & Ya F. Wang - 1995 - Acta Biotheoretica 43 (3):279-280.
Sex, Meiosis and Multicellularity.A. Ruvinsky - 1997 - Acta Biotheoretica 45 (2):127-141.
Forming Lineages by Sticking Together.Makmiller Pedroso - 2019 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 11.
Cancer Cells and Adaptive Explanations.Pierre-Luc Germain - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (6):785-810.
Weismann Rules! OK? Epigenetics and the Lamarckian Temptation.David Haig - 2007 - Biology and Philosophy 22 (3):415-428.


Added to PP index

Total views
24 ( #453,504 of 2,448,219 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #180,286 of 2,448,219 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes