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Biocomplexity XI Workshop
03/12/2010 -

Participating in the Biocomplexity XI Workshop. Dec. 3rd-Dec. 5th, 2010 Bloomington, IN, USA


Participating in the Biocomplexity XI Workshop: The evolution of cooperation.

Dec. 3rd-Dec. 5th, 2010

Bloomington, IN, USA


Cooperation occurs throughout the biological world, and similar
mechanisms and patterns of cooperative organization appear across the
hierarchies of biological structures:

Genes organize into genomes, cells into multicellular organisms,
organisms into institutions and societies, and species into ecologies.
Might there be important analogies between mechanisms at one such level
of organization and mechanisms at a different level?


Cooperation benefits a society, while evolution selects at the level
of individuals. Despite insights into the mathematics of selection in
the presence of cooperation, many aspects of the development of
cooperation remain mysterious in practice.

What is an individual? Is individuality discrete or continuous?
Can selection act simultaneously on multiple scales? How did cells
abandon reproduction to a specialized germ line? How did stable
multicellularity evolve in the face of noncooperative advantages?

When does stable cooperation require enforcement? Can the fitness
functions of evolutionary theory capture an individual's transfer of
fitness to a collective? Are individuals the correct fundamental units
of cooperative systems?

The intra-cellular cooperation of genes, molecular machines, and
organelles resembles a microscopic city; does the heterogeneity of the
conventional units of biology reflect an ancient cooperation predating
the origin of life?

Is an ecosystem composed of individuals, or is an individual
composed of ecosystems? Can the evolution of cooperation inform
engineering or economic regulation?


This workshop will investigate these subtle and provocative issues,
which are often ignored or misunderstood.

Talks will cover subjects ranging from cooperation inside of cells,
bacterial biofilms, social insect colonies, human institutions and
societies, cancer etiology and progression to the question of how single
cells subsumed their fitness in favor of multi-cellular collectives.




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