Received June 2, 2017
Phenoptosis is a phenomenon that is genetically programmed and favored by natural selection, and that determines death or increased risk of death (fitness reduction) for the individual that manifests it. Aging, here defined as age-related progressive mortality increase in the wild, if programmed and favored by natural selection, falls within the definition of phenoptosis. Sexual reproduction (sex), as for the involved individuals determines fitness reduction and, in some species, even certain death, also falls within the definition of phenoptosis. In this review, sex and aging are analyzed as phenoptotic phenomena, and the similarities between them are investigated. In particular, from a theoretical standpoint, the genes that cause and regulate these phenomena: (i) require analyses that consider both individual and supra-individual selection because they are harmful in terms of individual selection, but advantageous (that is, favored by natural selection) in particular conditions of supra-individual selection; (ii) determine a higher velocity of and greater opportunities for evolution and, therefore, greater evolutionary potential (evolvability); (iii) are advantageous under ecological conditions of K-selection and with finite populations; (iv) are disadvantageous (that is, not favored by natural selection) under ecological conditions of r-selection and with unlimited populations; (v) are not advantageous in all ecological conditions and, so, species that reproduce asexually or species that do not age are predicted and exist.
KEY WORDS: aging, sex, phenoptosis, supra-individual selection, K-selection, r-selection