Interactions within the Holobiont: On the Holobiont’s Interactions of Its Microorganisms

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I address the question of how we should understand the holobiont and offer to look at it from the perspective of interactions. The debate about the holobiont centers on two issues: where to place its boundaries and what are the criteria for distinguishing inside from outside. By shifting the focus from degrees of cohesion of the host-symbiont interactions to the heterogeneity of interactions, I suggest a different perspective on interactions and their role in shaping the interacting agent (e.g., host-organism/microorganism/holobiont). I focus on the notion of mutuality of interactions by thinking about the holobiont through microbial interactions, using the case study of quorum sensing between bacterial cells. I conceptualize interactions as constitutive, placed on a scale between constitutive and contextual of each interacting agent. Constitutive interactions in this view are not interactions between individuals composing a third individual (i.e., symbionts within a host organism). Instead, the interactions are constitutive of each of the interacting organisms in interdependence relations. Furthermore, I argue that this interdependence involves the environment as an active participant which affects the nature of the interactions through environmental modifications.
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Archival date: 2021-07-20
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