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Integrating multicelular systems: Physiological control and degrees of biological individuality.

Bich, Leonardo (2024) Integrating multicelular systems: Physiological control and degrees of biological individuality. Acta Biotheoretica, 72 (1). ISSN 0001-5342

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Abstract

This paper focuses on physiological integration in multicellular systems, a notion often associated with biological individuality, but which has not received enough attention and needs a thorough theoretical treatment. Broadly speaking, physiological integration consists in how different components come together into a cohesive unit in which they are dependent on one another for their existence and activity. This paper argues that physiological integration can be understood by considering how the components of a biological multicellular system are controlled and coordinated in such a way that their activities can contribute to the maintenance of the system. The main implication of this perspective is that different ways of controlling their parts may give rise to multicellular organizations with different degrees of integration. After defining control, this paper analyses how control is realized in two examples of multicellular systems located at different ends of the spectrum of multicellularity: biofilms and animals. It focuses on differences in control ranges, and it argues that a high degree of integration implies control exerted at both medium and long ranges, and that insofar as biofilms lack long-range control (relative to their size) they can be considered as less integrated than other multicellular systems. It then discusses the implication of this account for the debate on physiological individuality and the idea that degrees of physiological integration imply degrees of individuality.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Bich, Leonardoleonardo.bich@ehu.es0000-0002-2416-112X
Keywords: Physiology; Organization; Biofilms; Animals; Vascularization; Nervous System
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Function/Teleology
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
Specific Sciences > Neuroscience
Depositing User: Dr. Leonardo Bich
Date Deposited: 28 Dec 2023 17:43
Last Modified: 28 Dec 2023 17:43
Item ID: 22896
Journal or Publication Title: Acta Biotheoretica
Publisher: Springer
Official URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10441-0...
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10441-023-09476-4
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Function/Teleology
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
Specific Sciences > Neuroscience
Date: 2024
Volume: 72
Number: 1
ISSN: 0001-5342
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/22896

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