Conflict and conflict resolution have been argued to be fundamental to the major transitions in evolution. These were key events in life's history in which previously independently-living individuals cooperatively formed a higher-level individual, such as a multicellular organism or eusocial colony. Conflict has its central role because, to proceed stably, the evolution of individuality in each major transition required within-individual conflict to be held in check. This review revisits the role of conflict and conflict resolution in the major transitions, addressing recent work arguing for a minor role. Inclusive fitness logic suggests that differences between the kin structures of clones and sexual families support the absence of conflict at the origin of multicellularity but, by contrast, suggest that key conflicts existed at the origin of eusociality. A principal example is conflict over replacing the founding queen (queen replacement). Following the origin of each transition, conflict remained important, because within-individual conflict potentially disrupts the attainment of maximal individuality (organismality) in the system. The conclusion is that conflict remains central to understanding the major transitions, essentially because conflict arises from differences in inclusive fitness optima while conflict resolution can help the system attain a high degree of coincidence of inclusive fitness interests.
|Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
|Published - 11 Oct 2023
- inclusive fitness
- major transition