"selfish genes" vs. "selfish DNA"

Xuhua Xia xia at hardy.u.washington.edu
Sat Feb 20 20:59:22 EST 1993


> gene-centered view (e.g., Gould in his vicious assault on Dawkins and anyone
> who favors his arguments, in a recent NYT Book Review).]

Perhaps it is no a good idea to use the word "vicious". I think that Gould
is mercyless, but not vicious.

> adaptive explanation was not necessary.  A sequence can conceivably arise and
> spread through its own tendency to be over-replicated, whether or not it is
> adaptive for the individual-- as long as it isn't deleterious.

This seems to represent a misunderstanding of selfish DNA hypothesis. A
selfish DNA element can be very deleterious to its carrier and still be
able to spread through the population. Please read Hickey (1982, Genetics)
and Charlesworth (1989 or 90?, Ann Rev Genetics). The only requirement is
efficent horizontal transmission.

X. Xia
Department of Genetics
U of Washington



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