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A Mixed Self: The Role of Symbiosis in Development

Pradeu, Thomas (2011) A Mixed Self: The Role of Symbiosis in Development. Biological Theory, 6 (1). pp. 80-88. ISSN 1555-5542


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Since the 1950s, the common view of development has been internalist: development is seen as the result of the unfolding of potentialities already present in the egg cell. In this article, I show that this view is incorrect because of the crucial influence of the environment on development. I focus on a fascinating example, that of the role played by symbioses in development, especially bacterial symbioses, a phenomenon found in virtually all organisms (plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates). I claim that we must consequently modify our conception of the boundaries of the developing entity, and I show how immunology can help us in accomplishing this task. I conclude that the developing entity encompasses many elements traditionally seen as “foreign,” while I reject the idea that there is no possible distinction between the organism and its environment.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Pradeu, Thomas
Depositing User: Thomas Pradeu
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2020 02:33
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2020 02:33
Item ID: 18243
Journal or Publication Title: Biological Theory
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle:
Date: 2011
Page Range: pp. 80-88
Volume: 6
Number: 1
ISSN: 1555-5542

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