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Can Aging Develop as an Adaptation to Optimize Natural Selection? (Application of Computer Modeling for Searching Conditions When the “Fable of Hares” Can Explain the Evolution of Aging)

A. V. Markov1,2,a, M. A. Barg3,b, and E. Yu. Yakovleva1,c*

1Lomonosov Moscow State University, Biological Faculty, 119991 Moscow, Russia

2Paleontological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, 117997 Moscow, Russia

3ABK Ltd., 117997 Moscow, Russia

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received August 6, 2018
There are two points of view on the evolution of aging. The classical theory of aging suggests that natural selection does not efficiently eliminate mutations or alleles that are harmful to organisms at later age. Another hypothesis is that the genetic program of aging has evolved as an adaptation that contributes to the optimization of the evolutionary process. Academician V. P. Skulachev advocates the latter hypothesis, which he has illustrated with the “Fable of hares”. In this paper, we have used computer simulation to search for conditions when, according to the “Fable”, aging develops as an adaptation required for the evolution of useful traits. The simulation has shown that the evolutionary mechanism presented in the “Fable of hares” is only partially functional. We have found that under certain conditions, programmed deterioration of some organismal functions makes it possible to increase the efficiency of natural selection of other functions. However, we have not identified mechanisms that would ensure the distribution and support of genes of aging within the population.
KEY WORDS: senescence, evolution of aging, “Fable of hares”, adaptation, natural selection, simulation, computer modeling

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297918120088