Harrison E, Koufopanou V, Burt A, MacLean RC. 2012. The cost of copy number in a selfish genetic element: the 2-μm plasmid of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. J Evol Biol 25(11): 2348-56.
What are the actors (e.g., what parts of the organism are in conflict) and what are they in conflict over?
The 2 μm plasmid of Saccharomyces yeast is in conflict with the cell host, this plasmid cost the host through using the cells' resources ; meaning a burden on the host to synthesize more proteins as well as increasing the amount of DNA the host cells needs to accommodate.
What is the key result of this experiment or study?
The results of the experiment come to prove that the higher plasmid copy numbers of 2 μm come at a consequence of a greater fitness cost to the host cell, seen through a decrease in growth rate.
What circumstances do you think would reduce the genetic conflict described in the article?
Since this genetic conflict occurs as a result of a trade-off between selection for higher vertical transmission which favours higher plasmid copy number and selection for lowering fitness cost to the host which would favour reduced copy number, this genetic conflict would be reduced if the later where of greater value. This could be done by reducing the efficiency of vertical transmission between the plasmids to maximize the rate of plasmid loss during asexual growth.
Does this genetic conflict involve a selfish genetic element?
This genetic conflict involves Selfish Genetic Elements (SGEs)