Colonies of encrusting marine invertebrates are tractable models for the study of competition, because of the relative ease with which observations can be made on the frequency and outcome of overgrowth interactions. Studies of intraspecific competition have found that competition is predicated upon a genetically controlled recognition event, which results in either fusion or rejection. Data are rapidly accumulating in two model systems showing that fusion is associated with somatic cell parasitism and that rejection is associated with overgrowth. Thus, encounters between conspecifics define a choice: to compete at the level of the cell lineage or to compete at the level of the colony. Fusion-rejection genes act to control the units (or targets) of selection.
Copyright © 1990. Published by Elsevier Ltd.