Evolutionary Explanations for Cooperation

  title={Evolutionary Explanations for Cooperation},
  author={Stuart Andrew West and Ashleigh S. Griffin and Andy Gardner},
  journal={Current Biology},

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Mutually helping microbes can evolve by hitchhiking

In PNAS, Waite and Shou demonstrate that cooperation can avoid cheater exploitation by hitchhiking with beneficial mutations.

The evolution of cooperation in simple molecular replicators

  • S. LevinS. West
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2017
Key life-history features in the evolution of the genome are suggested and it is suggested that the same factors can favour cooperation across the entire tree of life.

Social niche construction : evolutionary explanations for cooperative group formation

It is argued that not only can population structure drive the evolution of cooperation, as in classical models, but that the benefits of greater cooperation can in turn drive the Evolution of population structure - a positive feedback process that is called social niche construction.


It is demonstrated that cooperation between species can be evolved in the laboratory if (1) there is preexisting reciprocation or feedback for cooperation, and (2) reciprocation is preferentially received by cooperative genotypes.

Repression of competition favours cooperation: experimental evidence from bacteria

An experimental evolution study to test the effect of RC upon a cooperative trait in the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa found that cooperation was favoured when competition between siderophore producers and nonsiderophores producing cheats was repressed, but not in a treatment where competition between the two strains was permitted.

Evolution of genetic and physiological mechanisms of cooperative behaviour

Selection favors incompatible signaling in bacteria

In PNAS, Pollak et al demonstrate an elegant answer to this question: a rare mutant with incompatible quorum-sensing machinery initially exploits the wild-type, but is able to cooperate with its own kind when common in the population.

Pleiotropy, cooperation, and the social evolution of genetic architecture

The results suggest that pleiotropy could only explain cooperation under restrictive conditions and instead show how social evolution can shape the genetic architecture.



Five Rules for the Evolution of Cooperation

Five mechanisms for the evolution of cooperation are discussed: kin selection, direct reciprocity, indirect reciprocities, network reciprocation, group selection, and group selection.

Cooperation and competition in pathogenic bacteria

The results show that higher levels of cooperative siderophore production evolve in the higher relatedness treatments, but that more local competition selects for lower levels of siderophile production, and that there is a significant interaction between relatedness and the scale of competition.

The Evolution of Cooperation

Three general models by which cooperation can evolve and be maintained are distinguished: directed reciprocation—cooperation with individuals who give in return; shared genes— cooperation with relatives (e.g., kin selection); and byproduct benefits —cooperation as an incidental consequence of selfish action.

The evolution of cooperation.

A model is developed based on the concept of an evolutionarily stable strategy in the context of the Prisoner's Dilemma game to show how cooperation based on reciprocity can get started in an asocial world, can thrive while interacting with a wide range of other strategies, and can resist invasion once fully established.

Cooperation and conflict in the evolution of multicellularity

This paper studies conflict mediation, the process by which genetic modifiers evolve that enhance cooperation by altering the parameters of development or rules of formation of cell groups, and is particularly interested in the conditions under which these modifiers lead to a new higher-level unit of selection.

Social evolution theory for microorganisms

A conceptual overview of the different mechanisms through which cooperative behaviours can be stabilized is provided, emphasizing the aspects most relevant to microorganisms, the novel problems that microorganisms pose and the new insights that can be gained from applying evolutionary theory to micro organisms.

Cooperation and Competition Between Relatives

Competition between relatives can reduce, and even totally negate, the kin-selected benefits of altruism toward relatives, and has demonstrated the generality of the effect of competition between relatives.


Insect societies are macroscopic, and because they span the entire range from solitary individuals to essentially superorganismal colonies, they offer an accessible model for how such transitions can happen.


Simple mathematical models are developed to illustrate the main processes by which repression of competition evolves and are summarized by summarizing many new developments in this subject.