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Arizona Cancer Evolution Center

The predominance of sexual reproduction in eukaryotes remains paradoxical in evolutionary theory. Of the hypotheses proposed to resolve this paradox, the ‘Red Queen hypothesis’ emphasises the potential of antagonistic interactions to cause fluctuating selection, which favours the evolution and maintenance of sex. Whereas empirical and theoretical developments have focused on host-parasite interactions, the premises of the Red Queen theory apply equally well to any type of antagonistic interactions. Recently, it has been suggested that early multicellular organisms with basic anticancer defences were presumably plagued by antagonistic interactions with transmissible cancers and that this could have played a pivotal role in the evolution of sex. Here, we dissect this argument using a population genetic model.

Published November 2020 in PLOS Biology by team including ACE members.  Read here