Three cheers for Jim Crow!

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanApr 16, 2006 11:45 PM


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Below I mentioned the doyen of living population geneticists, James Crow, yeah, Jim Crow. Collaborater with Motoo Kimura of Neutral Theory fame, Crow is still an active member of the biological community. Recently he reviewed Genes in Conflict : The Biology of Selfish Genetic Elements by Bob Trivers & Austin Burt in Nature. He begins:

In the early 1970s, Robert Trivers published six articles on the evolution of social behaviour. They were ignored by most social scientists, who were reluctant to consider natural selection as a cause of human behavioural traits, and they were bitterly attacked by marxists for reasons of doctrine. Some population geneticists also objected, because Trivers did not formulate his concepts as standard equations for changes in allele frequency. Yet the papers have proved seminal, and Trivers is now recognized, along with Edward O. Wilson and Bill Hamilton, as one of the founders of behavioural evolution and sociobiology.... Just over ten years ago, Trivers joined forces with geneticist Austin Burt for a detailed study of selfish genetic elements, and Genes in Conflict is the result of their fruitful collaboration. The book is the first of its kind and admirably fills an empty niche.

Crow notes that Burt and Trivers reject the contention that selfish genetic elements might be adaptive. If you want to know why the authors might express this opinion, read the Wikipedia entry on intragenomic conflict.

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