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One condition for the evolution of altruism is genetic relatedness between altruist and beneficiary, often achieved through active kin recognition. Here, we investigate the power of a passive process resulting from genetic drift during population growth in the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum. We put labelled and unlabelled cells of the same clone in the centre of a plate, and allowed them to proliferate outward. Zones formed by genetic drift owing to the small population of actively growing cells at the colony edge. We also found that single cells could form zones of high relatedness. Relatedness increased at a significantly higher rate when food was in short supply. This study shows that relatedness can be significantly elevated before the social stage without a small founding population size or recognition mechanism.


This is a final, accepted manuscript of an article published in Biology Letters. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2012.0421 Copyright © 2012 The Royal Society.

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