Symbiosis as a Driving Force of Evolution

Saturday, February 16, 2013
Room 308 (Hynes Convention Center)
Douglas Zook , Boston University, Boston, MA
Symbiosis as a driving force in evolution

Douglas Zook, Associate Professor of Science Education and  Biology

Boston University Two Silber Way, Boston, MA 02215,


Symbiotic integration appears to be a primary contributor to the centerpiece of evolution, genetic novelty.  Acquisition of foreign organisms or parts thereof, and potential subsequent  assimilation and often internalization of one or several different genomes into another different entity are the foundational expressions upon which natural selection acts, particularly in eukaryotic organisms.  Thus, the entire landscape of life – from cells to biomes -- is substantially an evolving collection of chimeric communities.  Competition may be pronounced and successful in evolution in large part because the competing organisms do not function as and, indeed are not, individuals.  So-called mutualistic vs parasitism vs commensalism in a symbiotic analyses are now becoming outdated and perhaps of little use, given the plasticity and flow of symbiotic systems as well as the simple realization, for example. that parasitism amongst two different organisms is of often great mutual advantage.  Symbiosis system examples are shown here as dominant life strategies and the term “symbiosis” is redefined based on specific concrete outcomes within an evolutionary context.