A polychromatic 'greenbeard' locus determines patterns of cooperation in a social amoeba

Nicole Gruenheit, Katie Parkinson, Balint Stewart, Jennifer A. Howie, Jason B. Wolf, Christopher R. L. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Cheaters disrupt cooperation by reaping the benefits without paying their fair share of associated costs. Cheater impact can be diminished if cooperators display a tag ('greenbeard') and recognise and preferentially direct cooperation towards other tag carriers. Despite its popular appeal, the feasibility of such greenbeards has been questioned because the complex patterns of partner-specific cooperative behaviours seen in nature require greenbeards to come in different colours. Here we show that a locus ('Tgr') of a social amoeba represents a polychromatic greenbeard. Patterns of natural Tgr locus sequence polymorphisms predict partner-specific patterns of cooperation by underlying variation in partner-specific protein-protein binding strength and recognition specificity. Finally, Tgr locus polymorphisms increase fitness because they help avoid potential costs of cooperating with incompatible partners. These results suggest that a polychromatic greenbeard can provide a key mechanism for the evolutionary maintenance of cooperation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14171
JournalNature Communications
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2017

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amoeba
Amoeba
loci
Polymorphism
Costs and Cost Analysis
polymorphism
Protein Binding
Cooperative Behavior
Costs
Color
Maintenance
proteins
costs
fitness
maintenance
Proteins
color

Cite this

A polychromatic 'greenbeard' locus determines patterns of cooperation in a social amoeba. / Gruenheit, Nicole; Parkinson, Katie; Stewart, Balint; Howie, Jennifer A.; Wolf, Jason B.; Thompson, Christopher R. L.

In: Nature Communications, Vol. 8, 14171, 25.01.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Gruenheit, Nicole ; Parkinson, Katie ; Stewart, Balint ; Howie, Jennifer A. ; Wolf, Jason B. ; Thompson, Christopher R. L. / A polychromatic 'greenbeard' locus determines patterns of cooperation in a social amoeba. In: Nature Communications. 2017 ; Vol. 8.
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