Introducing the Black Queen Hypothesis

A paper by Morris and colleagues (2012) has generated some stir among biologists. The authors are proposing the Black Queen hypothesis to explain genomic reductions among free living interacting microbes. Rather than rehash arguments that have been made more eloquently, I’d like to just point out some informative ones

Quick summary over at the New Scientist

In depth critique by Robert T. Gonzalez

Tommy Leung also reminded me of a great review paper by Sachs et al (2011) over at TREE that is highly relevant to this debate.

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4 comments on “Introducing the Black Queen Hypothesis

  1. nopoles says:

    Oops, here you see what can happen if you don’t check the original publication… :-)

    Morris et al. (2012) write: ”… the Red Queen Hypotheses uses a metaphor derived from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass – ‘it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place,’ spoken by the (red) Queen of Hearts” and ”Similar to the red queen, the black queen refers to a playing card…”

    The Red Queen in Carroll’s book is not a playing card. It is a chess queen.

    -Mikko Kolkkala

    Reference: Morris, J. J., Lenski, R. E. and Zinser, E. R. 2012: The black queen hypotheses: evolution of dependencies through adaptive gene loss. mBio 3: e00036-12

    • Yoder says:

      Good grief! Looks like Morris et al. conflated Throught the Looking-Glass with Alice in Wonderland, which does, of course, feature a Queen of Hearts. I wonder what reviewers let that slide?

    • nopoles says:

      “Hypothesis”, not “hypotheses”. Oops… :-)

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