We were all young once: an intragenomic perspective on parent-offspring conflict

Proc Biol Sci. 2013 Jan 8;280(1754):20122637. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2012.2637. Print 2013 Mar 7.


Parent-offspring conflict (POC) describes the evolutionary conflict between offspring and their parents over parental resource allocation. Offspring are expected to demand more resources than their parents are willing to supply because these offspring are more related to their own than to their siblings' offspring. Kin selection acts to limit these divergent interests. Our model departs from previous models by describing POC as an intragenomic conflict between genes determining life-history traits during infancy or parenthood. We explain why a direct fitness approach that measures the total fitness effect during exactly one generation is required to correctly assess POC in interbrood rivalry. We find that incorrect assumptions in previous models led to an overestimation of the scope of POC. Moreover, we show why the degree of monogamy is more important for POC than previously thought. Overall, we demonstrate that a life-history-centred intragenomic approach is necessary to correctly interpret POCs. We further discuss how our work relates to the current debate about the usefulness of inclusive fitness theory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Maternal Behavior*
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Mutation
  • Selection, Genetic