Biology and Philosophy 31 (6):819-837 (2016)

Authors
Lynn Chiu
University of Bordeaux/CNRS
Abstract
There is currently a great debate about whether the holobiont, i.e. a multicellular host and its residential microorganisms, constitutes a biological individual. We propose that resident microorganisms have a general and important role in the individuality of the host organism, not the holobiont. Drawing upon the Equilibrium Model of Immunity, we argue that microorganisms are scaffolds of immune capacities and processes that determine the constituency and persistence of the host organism. A scaffolding perspective accommodates the contingency and heterogeneity of resident microorganisms while accounting for their necessity and unifying contributions to host individuality. In our symbiotic view of life, holobionts may not be organisms or units of selection, but macroorganisms cannot persist nor function as individuals without their scaffolding microorganisms.
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DOI 10.1007/s10539-016-9552-0
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References found in this work BETA

Minds: Extended or Scaffolded? [REVIEW]Kim Sterelny - 2010 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 9 (4):465-481.
Philosophy of Microbiology.Maureen O'Malley - 2014 - Cambridge University Press.
What is an Organism? An Immunological Answer.Thomas Pradeu - 2010 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 32 (2-3):247-267.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Many Faces of Biological Individuality.Thomas Pradeu - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (6):761-773.
Biological Individuals.Robert A. Wilson & Matthew J. Barker - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 1 (1).

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