Co-option of stress mechanisms in the origin of evolutionary novelties

Alan C. Love, Günter P. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

It is widely accepted that stressful conditions can facilitate evolutionary change. The mechanisms elucidated thus far accomplish this with a generic increase in heritable variation that facilitates more rapid adaptive evolution, often via plastic modifications of existing characters. Through scrutiny of different meanings of stress in biological research, and an explicit recognition that stressors must be characterized relative to their effect on capacities for maintaining functional integrity, we distinguish between: (1) previously identified stress-responsive mechanisms that facilitate evolution by maintaining an adaptive fit with the environment, and (2) the co-option of stress-responsive mechanisms that are specific to stressors leading to the origin of novelties via compensation. Unlike standard accounts of gene co-option that identify component sources of evolutionary change, our model documents the cost-benefit trade-offs and thereby explains how one mechanism—an immediate response to acute stress—is transformed evolutionarily into another—routine protection from recurring stressors. We illustrate our argument with examples from cell type origination as well as processes and structures at higher levels of organization. These examples suggest a general principle of evolutionary origination based on the capacity to switch between regulatory states related to reproduction and proliferation versus survival and differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)394-413
Number of pages20
JournalEvolution
Volume76
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the John Templeton Foundation (Grant #61329). The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and not those of the JTF. We also appreciate feedback from the following online audiences where earlier versions of this article were presented: University of Minnesota Institute on Child Development Brown Bag Lunch Series (2021), International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology (2021), and Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (2021). We also want to thank many individuals for helpful comments and suggestions on the manuscript: A. Corris, C. de Weerth, M. Del Giudice, M. Dresow, C. Kurth, P. Lyon, M. Maiese, D. Staudtmauer, B. von Dawans, L. Wilson, L. Wu, and Y. Yoshida.

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the John Templeton Foundation (Grant #61329). The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and not those of the JTF. We also appreciate feedback from the following online audiences where earlier versions of this article were presented: University of Minnesota Institute on Child Development Brown Bag Lunch Series (2021), International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology (2021), and Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (2021). We also want to thank many individuals for helpful comments and suggestions on the manuscript: A. Corris, C. de Weerth, M. Del Giudice, M. Dresow, C. Kurth, P. Lyon, M. Maiese, D. Staudtmauer, B. von Dawans, L. Wilson, L. Wu, and Y. Yoshida.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Evolution published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of The Society for the Study of Evolution.

Keywords

  • Cell types
  • evolutionary innovation
  • stress induced evolutionary innovation
  • stress response

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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