Maria Rebolleda-Gomez, Ashman Lab
Perspectives on biological individuality from a microbial point of view
The problem of biological individuality lies at the intersection between biology and philosophy. Although questions of individuality are mainly ontological (e.g. What is an individual? How does an individual come to be?), they have consequences for the ways in which we understand the living world. Many practices in biology depend upon some notion of individuality: we count individuals to estimate abundance and diversity, we use the number of individuals over time as a way to measure population growth and we track the lifetime of individuals to describe development. However, determining which entities are individuals is often problematic. In this talk I will argue that our problems delineating units reflects a complex heterogeneous and relational world, where entities are constantly engaging in a series of processes, transforming their world as they themselves are being transformed. I will move pass the discussion of what counts as a biological individual, to ask: what processes shape biological individuality and the relationship between microbial cells and their environments. To address these questions I will draw from two different systems I have been working on: experimental evolution of multicellularity of the brewers yeast and eco-evolutionary dynamics of flower microbiomes.
A219B Langley Hall
05 Sep 2018
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219B Langley Hall