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genic selectionGenselektion (ger.)

  • A type of natural selection which acts upon individual genes and alleles within an organism's genome. Genic selection occurs whenever a gene or allele reproduces at a rate different from the organism which carries it, for example if an allele is transmitted to more than 50% of the gametes of a heterozygous individual (called "segregation distortion" or "meiotic drive"). (

    Mutation opposed by sufficiently strong genic selection […] gives stable equilibrium

    Wright, S. (1937). The distribution of gene frequencies in populations. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 23, 307-320: 310. 

    The main assumption inherent in the theory of natural selection is that some hereditary types of a species may have a certain advantage over others in survival and reproduction. Mathematically, the simplest case is the so-called genic selection, when the gene allelomorphs a and A tend to be reproduced in each generation in the ratios (1-s)

    Dobzhansky, T. (1937). Genetics and the Origin of Species: 176.


    In some respects volition and choice serve for society as does gene selection for the individual; and the exercise of our best collective judgment and foresight must certainly accelerate social evolution. 

    Gerard, R.W. (1940). Organism, society and science, III. Science. The Scientific Monthly 50, 530-535: 532.


    In the case of, genic selection we may assume that the alleles A and a are reproduced in the ratio 1:(l-s) per generation, where s is the selection coefficient (Wright, 1931).

    House, V.L. (1953). The use of the binomial expansion for a classroom demonstration of drift in small populations. Evolution 7, 84-88: 86. 

    The rapid turnover of generations is one of the crucial factors that makes genic selection such a powerful force
    Williams, G.C. (1966). Adaptation and Natural Selection: 115.
    only genic selection […] need be recognized as the creative force in evolution
    Williams, G.C. (1966). Adaptation and Natural Selection: 123f.

    gene selection

    Dawkins, R. (1976). The Selfish Gene (Oxford 1989): 7 (Germ. Das egoistische Gen, Berlin 1978: 9).


    Missing is the concept of “inclusive fitness” which plays such an important role in modern discussions of group selection vs. gene selection, altruism vs. genetic selfishness, etc.

    Bremermann, H.J. (1978). [Rev. Edwards, A.W.F. (1977). Foundations of Mathematical Genetics]. American Scientist 66, 505-506: 505. 


    why are there memes at all; how did cultural evolution arise during the course of genetical evolution? The answer to this question is that it was adaptively advantageous, in a gene selection, Darwinian sense, to have organisms capable of cultural evolution.

    Bonner, J.T. (1979). The biological basis of culture. Proc. Amer. Philos. Soc. 123, 219-221: 219.