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Does senescence promote fitness in Caenorhabditis elegans by causing death?

Lohr, JN; Galimov, ER; Gems, D; (2019) Does senescence promote fitness in Caenorhabditis elegans by causing death? Ageing Research Reviews , 50 pp. 58-71. 10.1016/j.arr.2019.01.008. Green open access

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Abstract

A widely appreciated conclusion from evolutionary theory is that senescence (aging) is of no adaptive value to the individual that it afflicts. Yet studies of Caenorhabditis elegans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae are increasingly revealing the presence of processes which actively cause senescence and death, leading some biogerontologists to wonder about the established theory. Here we argue that programmed death that increases fitness could occur in C. elegans and S. cerevisiae, and that this is consistent with the classic evolutionary theory of aging. This is because of the special conditions under which these organisms have evolved, particularly the existence of clonal populations with limited dispersal and, in the case of C. elegans, the brevity of the reproductive period caused by protandrous hermaphroditism. Under these conditions, death-promoting mechanisms could promote worm fitness by enhancing inclusive fitness, or worm colony fitness through group selection. Such altruistic, adaptive death is not expected to evolve in organisms with outbred, dispersed populations (e.g. most vertebrate species). The plausibility of adaptive death in C. elegans is supported by computer modelling studies, and new knowledge about the ecology of this species. To support these arguments we also review the biology of adaptive death, and distinguish three forms: consumer sacrifice, biomass sacrifice and defensive sacrifice.

Type: Article
Title: Does senescence promote fitness in Caenorhabditis elegans by causing death?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.arr.2019.01.008
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arr.2019.01.008
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Adaptive death, Aging, Altruism, C. elegans, Evolution, Inclusive fitness
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10066420
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