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Antagonistic pleiotropy

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Antagonistic pleiotropy hypothesis
The antagonistic pleiotropy hypothesis was first proposed by George C. Williams in 1957 as an evolutionary explanation for senescencePleiotropy is the phenomenon where one gene controls for more than one phenotypic trait in an organism. Antagonistic pleiotropy is when one gene controls for more than one trait where at least one of these traits is beneficial to the organism's fitness and at least one is detrimental to the organism's fitness. The theme of G.C. William's idea about antagonistic pleiotropy was that if a gene caused both increased reproduction in early life and aging in later life, then senescence would be adaptive in evolution. For example, one study suggests that since follicular depletion in human females causes both more regular cycles in early life and loss of fertility later in life through menopause, it can be selected for by having its early benefits outweigh its late costs.

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Common Terms in Evolutionary Biology and Genetics Dictionary

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Antagonistic pleiotropy
The effects of a gene which are beneficial early in life (i.e., increasing fitness) but deleterious later in life (no change in fitness after the reproductive age). Such genes will be maintained by selection, because by the time the gene exerts its damage, its bearers will already have had more offspring than other individuals.


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