The Evolution of Microbial Facilitation: Sociogenesis, Symbiogenesis, and Transition in Individuality

Zachar, I. & Boza, G. ORCID: (2022). The Evolution of Microbial Facilitation: Sociogenesis, Symbiogenesis, and Transition in Individuality. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 10 e798045. 10.3389/fevo.2022.798045.

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Metabolic cooperation is widespread, and it seems to be a ubiquitous and easily evolvable interaction in the microbial domain. Mutual metabolic cooperation, like syntrophy, is thought to have a crucial role in stabilizing interactions and communities, for example biofilms. Furthermore, cooperation is expected to feed back positively to the community under higher-level selection. In certain cases, cooperation can lead to a transition in individuality, when freely reproducing, unrelated entities (genes, microbes, etc.) irreversibly integrate to form a new evolutionary unit. The textbook example is endosymbiosis, prevalent among eukaryotes but virtually lacking among prokaryotes. Concerning the ubiquity of syntrophic microbial communities, it is intriguing why evolution has not lead to more transitions in individuality in the microbial domain. We set out to distinguish syntrophy-specific aspects of major transitions, to investigate why a transition in individuality within a syntrophic pair or community is so rare. We review the field of metabolic communities to identify potential evolutionary trajectories that may lead to a transition. Community properties, like joint metabolic capacity, functional profile, guild composition, assembly and interaction patterns are important concepts that may not only persist stably but according to thought-provoking theories, may provide the heritable information at a higher level of selection. We explore these ideas, relating to concepts of multilevel selection and of informational replication, to assess their relevance in the debate whether microbial communities may inherit community-level information or not.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA)
Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA) > Cooperation and Transformative Governance (CAT)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 10 May 2022 10:29
Last Modified: 10 May 2022 10:29

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