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Theory Biosci. 2018 Nov;137(2):197-206. doi: 10.1007/s12064-018-0268-3. Epub 2018 Jul 31.

Some theoretical insights into the hologenome theory of evolution and the role of microbes in speciation.

Author information

1
Faculty of Philosophy, Jagiellonian University, ul. Gołębia 24, 31-007, Kraków, Poland. adstencel@gmail.com.
2
Institute of Environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian University, Gronostajowa 7, 30-387, Kraków, Poland.

Abstract

Research on symbiotic communities (microbiomes) of multicellular organisms seems to be changing our understanding of how species of plants and animals have evolved over millions of years. The quintessence of these discoveries is the emergence of the hologenome theory of evolution, founded on the concept that a holobiont (a host along with all of its associated symbiotic microorganisms) acts a single unit of selection in the process of evolution. Although the hologenome theory has become very popular among certain scientific circles, its principles are still being debated. In this paper, we argue, firstly, that only a very small number of symbiotic microorganisms are sufficiently integrated into multicellular organisms to act in concert with them as units of selection, thus rendering claims that holobionts are units of selection invalid. Secondly, even though holobionts are not units of selection, they can still constitute genuine units from an evolutionary perspective, provided we accept certain constraints: mainly, they should be considered units of co-operation. Thirdly, we propose a reconciliation of the role of symbiotic microorganisms with the theory of speciation through the use of a developed framework. Mainly, we will argue that, in order to understand the role of microorganisms in the speciation of multicellular organisms, it is not necessary to consider holobionts units of selection; it is sufficient to consider them units of co-operation.

KEYWORDS:

Evolution; Holobiont; Hologenome; Symbiosis

PMID:
30066215
PMCID:
PMC6208839
DOI:
10.1007/s12064-018-0268-3
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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