Adaptive suicide : is a kin-selected driver of fatal behaviours likely?
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While several manipulated host behaviours are accepted as extended phenotypes of parasites, there remains debate over whether other altered behaviours in hosts following parasitic invasion represent cases of parasite manipulation, host defence or the pathology of infection. One particularly controversial subject is 'suicidal behaviour' in infected hosts. The host-suicide hypothesis proposes that host death benefits hosts doomed to reduced direct fitness by protecting kin from parasitism and therefore increasing inclusive fitness. However, adaptive suicide has been difficult to demonstrate conclusively as a host adaptation in studies on social or clonal insects, for whom high relatedness should enable greater inclusive fitness benefits. Following discussion of empirical and theoretical works from a behavioural ecology perspective, this review finds that the most persuasive evidence for selection of adaptive suicide comes from bacteria. Despite a focus on parasites, driven by the existing literature, the potential for the evolution of adaptive suicidal behaviour in hosts is also considered to apply to cases of infection by pathogens, provided that the disease has a severe effect on direct fitness and that suicidal behaviour can affect pathogen transmission dynamics. Suggestions are made for future research and a broadening of the possible implications for coevolution between parasites and hosts.
Humphreys , R K & Ruxton , G D 2019 , ' Adaptive suicide : is a kin-selected driver of fatal behaviours likely? ' Biology Letters , vol. 15 , no. 2 , 20180823 . https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2018.0823
Copyright © 2019 The Author(s). This work has been made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created, accepted version manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2018.0823
DescriptionFunding: Perry Foundation and the University of St Andrews.
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