University of Oulu

Helanterä, H., & Uller, T. (2020). Different perspectives on non-genetic inheritance illustrate the versatile utility of the Price equation in evolutionary biology. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 375(1797), 20190366.

Different perspectives on non-genetic inheritance illustrate the versatile utility of the Price equation in evolutionary biology

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Author: Helanterä, Heikki1; Uller, Tobias2
Organizations: 1Ecology and Genetics research unit, University of Oulu, Pentti Kaiteran katu 1, FI-90014, University of Oulu, Finland
2Department of Biology, Lund University, Sölvegatan 37, 22362 Lund, Sweden
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Royal Society Publishing, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-10-13


The diversity of genetic and non-genetic processes that make offspring resemble their parents are increasingly well understood. In addition to genetic inheritance, parent–offspring similarity is affected by epigenetic, behavioural and cultural mechanisms that collectively can be referred to as non-genetic inheritance. Given the generality of the Price equation as a description of evolutionary change, is it not surprising that the Price equation has been adopted to model the evolutionary implications of non-genetic inheritance. In this paper, we briefly introduce the heredity perspectives on which those models rely, discuss the extent to which these perspectives make different assumptions and place different emphases on the roles of heredity and development in evolution, and the types of empirical research programmes they motivate. The existence of multiple perspectives and explanatory aims highlight, on the one hand, the versatility of the Price equation and, on the other hand, the importance of understanding how heredity and development can be conceptualized in evolutionary studies.

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Series: Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological sciences
ISSN: 0962-8436
ISSN-E: 1471-2970
ISSN-L: 0962-8436
Volume: 375
Issue: 1797
Article number: 20190366
DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2019.0366
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: HH was supported by the Kone Foundation. TU was supported by a Wallenberg Academy Fellowship from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundations and a research grant from the John Templeton Foundation (grant no 66501).
Copyright information: © 2020 The Author(s). Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.