04 February, 2006

Evolution: Sex: The Advantage of Sex

Evolution: Sex: The Advantage of Sex:

"The Red Queen hypothesis for sex is simple: Sex is needed to fight disease. Diseases specialize in breaking into cells, either to eat them, as fungi and bacteria do, or, like viruses, to subvert their genetic machinery for the purpose of making new viruses. To do that they use protein molecules that bind to other molecules on cell surfaces. The arms races between parasites and their hosts are all about these binding proteins. Parasites invent new keys; hosts change the locks. For if one lock is common in one generation, the key that fits it will spread like wildfire. So you can be sure that it is the very lock not to have a few generations later. According to the Red Queen hypothesis, sexual reproduction persists because it enables host species to evolve new genetic defenses against parasites that attempt to live off them."