Evolution, epigenetics and cooperation

J Biosci. 2014 Apr;39(2):191-200. doi: 10.1007/s12038-013-9342-7.


Explanations for biological evolution in terms of changes in gene frequencies refer to outcomes rather than process. Integrating epigenetic studies with older evolutionary theories has drawn attention to the ways in which evolution occurs. Adaptation at the level of the gene is givingway to adaptation at the level of the organism and higher-order assemblages of organisms. These ideas impact on the theories of how cooperation might have evolved. Two of the theories, i.e. that cooperating individuals are genetically related or that they cooperate for self-interested reasons, have been accepted for a long time. The idea that adaptation takes place at the level of groups is much more controversial. However, bringing together studies of development with those of evolution is taking away much of the heat in the debate about the evolution of group behaviour.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Gene-Environment Interaction
  • Humans
  • Mass Behavior
  • Models, Genetic
  • Social Behavior