Altruism is defined an individual acting at a cost to themselves but benefiting, another individual, without the expectation of reciprocity (self-sacrifice). Self-sacrifices include complex behaviors, such as meerkats, that watch for predators while other members of their family forage or may be relatively simple, as in bacteria that absorb peptides that help the survival of the population. From a gene-centered view, the more two individuals are genetically related, the more sense it makes for them to behave selflessly with each other, which is the basis of kin recognition.
The concept of kin recognition is difficult to explain when considering fungi. How can fungi assess the genealogy of other individuals without ‘seeing’? So-called “green beard” genes have been postulated to affect interactions between individuals who share a specific phenotypic trait; an interaction defined as kind recognition. Kind recognition can be divided into “harming” and “helping” types. For example, bacteriocin toxins can be considered green beard traits of the harming type. “Helping” kind discrimination is defined by actions that provide fitness benefit to individuals that share the trait but not to those that lack it. In this talk, Glass will describe social behavior in filamentous ascomyete fungi regulated by helping “green beard” genes that promote cooperation and fitness and harming “green beard” genes that are antagonistic and promote competition for resources in the environment.
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