Viruses Have a Secret, Altruistic Social Life

Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine’s Abstractions blog.

Researchers are beginning to understand the ways in which viruses strategically manipulate and cooperate with one another.Photograph by nobeastsofierce / Flickr

ocial organisms come in all shapes and sizes, from the obviously gregarious ones like mammals and birds down to the more cryptic socializers like bacteria. Evolutionary biologists often puzzle over altruistic behaviors among them, because self-sacrificing individuals would at first seem to be at a severe disadvantage under natural selection. William D. Hamilton, one of the 20th century’s most prominent , developed a mathematical theory to explain the evolution of altruism through kin selection—for instance, why most individual ants, bees and wasps forgo the ability to reproduce and instead pour all their efforts into raising their siblings.

Citiți o mostră, înregistrați-vă pentru a citi în continuare.

Mai multe de la Nautilus

Nautilus8 min cititePhysics
This Tenet Shows Time Travel May Be Possible: Director Christopher Nolan could take a tip from new research into “closed timelike curves.”
Time travel has been a beloved science-fiction idea at least since H.G. Wells wrote The Time Machine in 1895. The concept continues to fascinate and fictional approaches keep coming, prodding us to wonder whether time travel is physically possible an
Nautilus8 min citite
Gaia, the Scientist: What if the first woman scientist was simply the first woman?
There exists a social hierarchy within science that strikes people who are not mixed up in it as ridiculous. It goes like this: Mathematicians are superior to Physicists, who are, in turn, superior to Chemists, who are of course, superior to Biologis
Nautilus10 min cititeBiology
How Intelligent Could Life Be Without Natural Selection?: Don’t be surprised if alien life forms are a lot like us.
I could stridently insist that natural selection is the only way that complex life can evolve, but that’s not strictly true. We can already design computers that can learn and reason and—almost—convince an observer that their behavior might be human.