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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2011 Apr;68(8):1353-68. doi: 10.1007/s00018-011-0649-y. Epub 2011 Mar 23.

Using artificial systems to explore the ecology and evolution of symbioses.

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Division of Basic Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 1100 Fairview Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.


The web of life is weaved from diverse symbiotic interactions between species. Symbioses vary from antagonistic interactions such as competition and predation to beneficial interactions such as mutualism. What are the bases for the origin and persistence of symbiosis? What affects the ecology and evolution of symbioses? How do symbiotic interactions generate ecological patterns? How do symbiotic partners evolve and coevolve? Many of these questions are difficult to address in natural systems. Artificial systems, from abstract to living, have been constructed to capture essential features of natural symbioses and to address these key questions. With reduced complexity and increased controllability, artificial systems can serve as useful models for natural systems. We review how artificial systems have contributed to our understanding of symbioses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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