This chapter takes up in detail the point from chapter 10 about the limitations of the standard view of microbes as solitary organisms. Most microbes in fact live in complex communities, such as biofilms, usually involving several or many different kinds of cells. Macrobes (the term proposed for non-microbes) are also invariably dependent on symbiotic relations with microbes. Thus the functional individuals that interact with the surrounding environment and which are also the units on which natural selection acts, are these complex symbiotic wholes. A crucial implication is that the individuals that form lineages are not the same as those that interact with the environment. This provides detailed substantiation for the pluralism about individuals advocated in chapter 5.
Keywords: microbe; biofilm; symbiosis; biological individual; pluralism
Chapter. 8134 words.
Subjects: Philosophy of Science
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