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The stability of traits conception of the hologenome: An evolutionary account of holobiont individuality

Suárez, Javier (2020) The stability of traits conception of the hologenome: An evolutionary account of holobiont individuality. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 42 (11).

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Abstract

Bourrat and Griffiths (HPLS 40(2): 33, 2018) have recently argued that most of the evidence presented by holobiont defenders to support the thesis that holobionts are evolutionary individuals is not to the point and is not even adequate to discriminate multispecies evolutionary individuals from other multispecies assemblages that would not be considered evolutionary individuals by most holobiont defenders. They further argue that an adequate criterion to distinguish the two categories rests on the existence of fitness alignment, presenting the notion of fitness boundedness as a criterion that allows divorcing true multispecies evolutionary individuals from other multispecies assemblages and provides an adequate criterion to single out genuine evolutionary multispecies assemblages. A consequence of their criterion is that holobionts, as conventionally defined by hologenome defenders, are not evolutionary individuals except in very rare cases, and for very specific host-symbiont associations. This paper is a critical response to Bourrat and Griffiths’ arguments and as such it constitutes a refinement and a defence of the arguments presented by holobiont defenders. Drawing upon the case of the hologenomic basis of the evolution of sanguivory in vampire bats (Nat. Ecol. Evol. 2: 659-668, 2018), I argue that Bourrat and Griffiths overlook some aspects of the biological nature of the microbiome that justifies the thesis that holobionts are evolutionarily different to other multispecies assemblages. I argue that the hologenome theory of evolution should not define the hologenome as a collection of genomes, but as the sum of the host genome plus some traits of the microbiome which together constitute an evolutionary individual, a conception I refer to as the stability of traits conception of the hologenome. Based on that conception I argue that the evidence presented by holobiont defenders, if adequately refined under the “stability of traits” framework I advocate here, is to the point, and supports the thesis that holobionts are evolutionary individuals. In this sense, the paper offers an account of the holobiont that aims to foster a dialogue between hologenome advocates and hologenome critics.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Suárez, Javierjavier.suarez@ub.edu0000-0001-5851-2277
Keywords: Holobiont; Biological individuality; Evolutionary individuality; Symbiosis; Fitness alignment; Hologenome; Microbiome; Stability of traits
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Developmental Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Ecology/Conservation
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
General Issues > Natural Kinds
Depositing User: Dr Javier Suárez
Date Deposited: 29 Feb 2020 05:55
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2020 05:55
Item ID: 16940
Journal or Publication Title: History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Publisher: Springer
Official URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs40656...
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40656-020-00305-2
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Developmental Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Ecology/Conservation
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
General Issues > Natural Kinds
Date: 24 February 2020
Volume: 42
Number: 11
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16940

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