Damage segregation at fissioning may increase growth rates: A superprocess model

December, 2006
Report Number: 
Steven N. Evans and David Steinsaltz

A fissioning organism may purge unrepairable damage by bequeathing it preferentially to one of its daughters. Using the mathematical formalism of superprocesses, we propose a flexible class of analytically tractable models that allow quite general effects of damage on death rates and splitting rates and similarly general damage segregation mechanisms. We show that, in a suitable regime, the effects of randomness in damage segregation at fissioning are indistinguishable from those of randomness in the mechanism of damage accumulation during the organism's lifetime. Moreover, the optimal population growth is achieved for a particular finite, non-zero level of combined randomness from these two sources. In particular, when damage accumulates deterministically, optimal population growth is achieved by a moderately unequal division of damage between the daughters, while too little or too much division is sub-optimal. Connections are drawn both to recent experimental results on inheritance of damage in protozoans, and to theories of aging and resource division between siblings.

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