Theories of evolution that state natural selection acts on individuals have been modified to include multiple levels of selection. Here we demonstrate in chimeric protochordates that primitive germ cell (pgc) and somatic cell (psc) lineages have traits that also make them likely units of natural selection. Specifically, by using microsatellites to determine the genetic identity of various somatic and gametic tissues within vascularly fused Botryllus schlosseri chimeras, we show that genetically distinct pgc and psc can compete for access to developing gonads and somatic organs, and that this competition is hierarchical, reproducible, and heritable. Given that a single, highly polymorphic locus (Fu/HC) controls whether two contacting colonies fuse or reject, our findings also support a leading hypothesis for why the highly polymorphic histocompatibility loci common to many metazoa may have arisen or been maintained: to limit supercompetitor lineages to histocompatible kin.
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - 3 Aug 1999|
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