Acta Biotheoretica (3):391-415 (2020)

Authors
Leonardo Bich
University of the Basque Country
Guglielmo Militello
University of the Basque Country
Abstract
Both physiological and evolutionary criteria of biological individuality are underpinned by the idea that an individual is a functionally integrated whole. However, a precise account of functional integration has not been provided so far, and current notions are not developed in the details, especially in the case of composite systems. To address this issue, this paper focuses on the organisational dimension of two representative associations of prokaryotes: biofilms and the endosymbiosis between prokaryotes. Some critical voices have been raised against the thesis that biofilms are biological individuals. Nevertheless, it has not been investigated which structural and functional obstacles may prevent them from being fully integrated physiological or evolutionary units. By contrast, the endosymbiotic association of different species of prokaryotes has the potential for achieving a different type of physiological integration based on a common boundary and interlocked functions. This type of association had made it possible, under specific conditions, to evolve endosymbionts into fully integrated organelles. This paper therefore has three aims: first, to analyse the organisational conditions and the physiological mechanisms that enable integration in prokaryotic associations; second, to discuss the organisational differences between biofilms and prokaryotic endosymbiosis and the types of integration they achieve; finally, to provide a more precise account of functional integration based on these case studies.
Keywords biofilm  control  Endosymbiosis  Engulfment  Eukaryogenesis  Regulation
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Reprint years 2020
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DOI 10.1007/s10441-020-09390-z
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References found in this work BETA

An Organizational Account of Biological Functions.Matteo Mossio, Cristian Saborido & Alvaro Moreno - 2009 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (4):813-841.
What is an Organism? An Immunological Answer.Thomas Pradeu - 2010 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 32 (2-3):247-267.
Individuality and Selection.David L. Hull - 1980 - Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 11:311-332.

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