Holobionts and their hologenomes: Evolution with mixed modes of inheritance

Genetics and Molecular Biology
Karen Luisa Haag


Symbioses are ubiquitous and have played an influential role in the evolution of life on Earth. Genomic studies are now revealing a huge diversity of associations among hosts and their microbiotas, allowing us to characterize their complex ecological and evolutionary dynamics. The different transmission modes and the asynchronous cell proliferation of the numerous symbionts associated with one host generate a genomic conflict ought to be solved. Two disputing views have been used to model and predict the outcome of such conflicts. The traditional view is based on community ecology, and considers that selection at the level of individuals is sufficient to explain longstanding associations among species. A new perspective considers that the host and its associated microbiota constitute a biological entity called holobiont, and that regarding it as a higher-level unit of selection is unavoidable to understand phenotypic evolution. Novel extended phenotypes are often built through symbiotic interactions, allowing the holobiont to explore and survive in distinct environmental conditions, and may evolve in a Lamarckian fashion.


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Related Concepts

Genetic Inheritance
Cell Proliferation
Disease Transmission
Microbiota (Procedure)
Biological Evolution

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