:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 09-02-2013
Ever since Darwin, biologists have been puzzled about why there is so much apparent cooperation, and even flat-out generosity and altruism, in nature
-Associate Professor Joshua B. Plotkin, University of Pennsylvania Biologist
With new insights into the classical game theory match-up known as the “Prisoner’s Dilemma,” University of Pennsylvania biologists offer a mathematically based explanation for why cooperation and generosity have evolved in nature.
Their work builds upon the seminal findings of economist John Nash, who advanced the field of game theory in the 1950s, as well as those of computational biologist William Press and physicist-mathematician Freeman Dyson, who last year identified a new class of strategies for succeeding in the Prisoner’s Dilemma.
Postdoctoral researcher Alexander J. Stewart and associate professor Joshua B. Plotkin, both of Penn’s Department of Biology in the School of Arts and Sciences, examined the outcome of the Prisoner’s Dilemma as played repeatedly by a large, evolving population of players. While other researchers have previously suggested that cooperative strategies can be successful in such a scenario, Stewart and Plotkin offer mathematical proof that the only strategies that succeed in the long term are generous ones. They report their findings in PNAS the week of Sept. 2.
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:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 08-27-2013
Two high school students from Tennessee have accomplished what many 4th year graduate students are still dreaming of doing…publishing their results in a top scientific journal.
Dalton Chaffee and Hayes Griffin worked with mentor R. Tucker Gilman, a former postdoctoral research fellow at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, to study mate choice.
Their work was published this week in the journal Evolution.
The students began their research between their junior and senior years at Bearden High School in Knoxville. They wanted to know why individuals choose the mates they choose.
Read more about these talented young students…
:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 03-22-2013
System-wide networks of proteins are indispensable for organisms. Function and evolution of these networks are among the most fascinating research questions in biology. Bioinformatician Thomas Rattei, University of Vienna, and physicist Hernan Makse, City University New York (CUNY), have reconstructed ancestral protein networks. The results are of high interest not only for evolutionary research but also for the interpretation of genome sequence data. Recently, the researchers published their paper in the renowned journal PLOS ONE.
:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 12-20-2012
Are you a monkey or a man? According to a recent study out of the University of Utah, that all depends on how hard you can punch. Compared with apes, humans have shorter palms and fingers and longer, stronger, flexible thumbs – features that have been long thought to have evolved so our ancestors had the manual dexterity to make and use tools.
“The role aggression has played in our evolution has not been adequately appreciated,” says University of Utah biology Professor David Carrier, senior author of the study, published recently in the Journal of Experimental Biology.
As our ancestors evolved, “an individual who could strike with a clenched fist could hit harder without injuring themselves, so they were better able to fight for mates and thus more likely to reproduce,” he says. Fights also were for food, water, land and shelter to support a family, and “over pride, reputation and for revenge,” he adds.