Ecology drives intragenomic conflict over menopause

Francisco Ubeda*, Hisashi Ohtsuki, Andy Gardner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Menopause is the transition from reproductive to non-reproductive life well before natural death. Rather than involving a smooth, rapid change, it is normally preceded by a long period of erratic hormonal fluctuation that is accompanied by a plethora of unpleasant symptoms. Here, we (1) suggest that this turbulent period owes to conflict, between a woman's maternally inherited (MI) and paternally inherited (PI) genes, over the trade-off between reproduction and communal care; (2) perform a theoretical analysis to show that this conflict is resolved either through silencing or fluctuating expression of one of the genes; (3) highlight which of the symptoms preceding menopause may result from antagonistic co-evolution of MI and PI genes; (4) argue that ecological differences between ancestral human populations may explain the variability in menopause among different ethnic groups; (5) discuss how these insights may be used to inform family planning and cancer risk assessment based on a woman's ancestral background.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-174
Number of pages10
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number2
Early online date9 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


  • Cancer
  • Cooperation
  • Demography
  • Fertility
  • Game theory
  • Genomic imprinting
  • Humans
  • Hunter gatherers
  • Kin selection
  • Migration


Dive into the research topics of 'Ecology drives intragenomic conflict over menopause'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this