A novel solution to this problem has been proposed by scientists at the University of Bristol and is published today in Nature.
Professor John McNamara and colleagues demonstrate that when individuals in a population are choosy about their partners, cooperativeness is rewarded and tends to increase.
Professor McNamara explained: “The problem is that the process of natural selection tends to produce individuals that do the best for themselves. So why has a behaviour evolved that appears to benefit others at a cost to the individual concerned?
“In our model, an individual’s level of choosiness determines the level of cooperation demanded of its partner. If the current partner is not cooperative enough the individual stops interacting with this partner and seeks a better partner, even though finding a new partner incurs costs.”
So when is it worth leaving the current partner and seeking a more cooperative one? Two components are necessary for this to be beneficial:
•There must be better partners out there.
•There must also be time to exploit the relationship with the new partner, which will be true for long-lived animals like humans.
If these conditions are met, natural selection will lead to a certain degree of choosiness evolving. And once this happens, an individual that is not cooperative will be discarded by its partner and must pay the cost of finding another partner.
Thus when there is choosiness, cooperativeness is rewarded and tends to increase. In this way the level of cooperation and the degree of choosiness increase together over time, and cooperation can evolve from an initially uncooperative population.
This research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. Professor Nigel Brown, Director of Science and Technology at BBSRC, commented: “This is one of a number of fields where modelling studies are advancing biological science more rapidly than experiment alone can achieve.”
In a computational model, the team considered a large population where, in each of a discrete series of time steps, pairs of individuals engage in a ‘game’ in which each individual does best by being uncooperative and letting its partner put in the hard work.
Each individual was characterised by two traits: a cooperativeness trait, which specifies the amount of effort that the individual devotes to generating benefits available to its co-player, and a choosiness trait, which specifies the minimum degree of cooperativeness that the individual is prepared to accept from its co-player. The traits are not adjusted in response to the co-player’s behaviour and do not change over an individual’s life.
As this model does not require complex procedures such as negotiation, it could be relevant to a wide range of species.
Cherry Lewis | alfa
Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy