Received April 9, 2012
Phenoptosis is defined as the programmed death of an organism. In a more detailed formulation of the concept, it is the death of an individual caused by its own actions or by actions of close relatives (and not by accidents or age-independent diseases), which is determined by genes that are favored by natural selection and in certain cases increase the evolvability of organisms. This category of phenomena cannot be justified in terms of individual selection and needs always a justification in terms of supra-individual selection. Four types of phenoptosis are proposed (A, obligatory and rapid; B, obligatory and slow; C, optional; D, indirect). Examples of each type and subtype are given. The classification is discussed in its meaning and implications, and compared with another classification of end life types largely based on the classical concept of senescence.
KEY WORDS: phenoptosis, supra-individual selection, senescence, aging