Sexual selection and the evolutionary dynamics of the major histocompatibility complex

Excerpt: “Here, we present the results of the first model of MHC evolution incorporating both survival and reproduction, modelling the combined effects of natural selection and MHC-based disassortative mating on patterns of MHC allelic diversity.”

My comment: Results from their first mathematical model can be compared to representations of biologically-based cause and effect in the context of our model. See From Fertilization to Adult Sexual Behavior.

We linked RNA-mediated cell type differentiation via the metabolism of nutrients to species-specific pheromone production, which is MHC-dependent in mammals.

Excerpt: “Gilbert’s group found that humans could detect differences in individual chromosomes from otherwise syngeneic mice, including on the basis (i) of differing X or Y chromosomes or (ii) of differences introduced as nonidentical MHC haplotype (Gilbert et al., 1996). Wedekind et al. (1985) found that human females who were not taking oral contraceptives would select male-scented T-shirts in direct relationship to the males’ MHC-haplotypic difference from each perceiving female’s own MHC-haplotype. This indicates a dual awareness by the perceiver, i.e., of her own haplotype and of haplotypes sensed as different from her own. These findings establish that immunological components have the capacity, at a subconscious level, to contribute to adult human sexual interactions.”

My comment: The open questions we included have subsequently been addressed in a series of other published works, most of which are probably cited in Nutrient-dependent/pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution: a model or in other publications that cite our 1996 paper. For example: Organizational and activational effects of hormones on insect behavior I’m sure that there are many other serious scientists who can appreciate the fact that this new mathematical model attempts to include the physiology of reproduction even if the model is based on evolutionary theory.

Minimally, others will see that they cannot simply continue to claim that mutations and natural selection lead to the evolution of biodiversity. Denis Noble said it best: “If you learnt evolutionary biology and genetics a decade or more ago you need to be aware that those debates have moved on very considerably, as has the experimental and field work on which they are based.” (p 1014) Then he wrote: Physiology is rocking the foundations of evolutionary biology. However, the problem may still be that “Perhaps the elegant mathematics and the extraordinary reputation of the scientists involved blinded us to what now seems obvious: the organism should never have been relegated to the role of mere carrier of its genes.” When viewed in the context of “…the first model of MHC evolution incorporating both survival and reproduction…” it still seems that some researchers cannot escape from evolutionary theory and begin to link their model to models of biologically-based cause and effect.

 

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