Skip to main content

Black History Month: Select Books 30% Off

Harvard University Press - home
Genes in Conflict

Genes in Conflict

The Biology of Selfish Genetic Elements

Austin Burt, Robert Trivers

ISBN 9780674027220

Publication date: 03/15/2008

Austin Burt

Robert Trivers

In evolution, most genes survive and spread within populations because they increase the ability of their hosts (or their close relatives) to survive and reproduce. But some genes spread in spite of being harmful to the host organism—by distorting their own transmission to the next generation, or by changing how the host behaves toward relatives. As a consequence, different genes in a single organism can have diametrically opposed interests and adaptations.
Covering all species from yeast to humans, Genes in Conflict is the first book to tell the story of selfish genetic elements, those continually appearing stretches of DNA that act narrowly to advance their own replication at the expense of the larger organism. As and show, these selfish genes are a universal feature of life with pervasive effects, including numerous counter-adaptations. Their spread has created a whole world of socio-genetic interactions within individuals, usually completely hidden from sight.
Genes in Conflict introduces the subject of selfish genetic elements in all its aspects, from molecular and genetic to behavioral and evolutionary. Burt and Trivers give us access for the first time to a crucial area of research—now developing at an explosive rate—that is cohering as a unitary whole, with its own logic and interconnected questions, a subject certain to be of enduring importance to our understanding of genetics and evolution.

Praise

  • Robert Trivers is an under-appreciated genius, and one of history's greatest thinkers in the analysis of behavior and emotion.

    —Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of The Blank Slate and How the Mind Works

Authors

  • Austin Burt is Professor of Evolutionary Genetics, Imperial College London.
  • Robert Trivers is Professor of Anthropology and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University. Professor Trivers has been named 2007 winner of the Crafoord Prize in Biosciences.

Book Details

  • 632 pages
  • 6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press

Recommendations