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Reticulate Evolution: Symbiogenesis, Lateral Gene Transfer, Hybridization and Infectious Heredity

  • Explains to non-experts how symbiosis, symbiogenesis, lateral gene transfer, hybridization and infectious heredity underlie reticulate evolution
  • Includes glossaries that explain new terminology and timelines that situate major discoveries in their historical contexts
  • Presents state of the art findings on how reticulate evolutionary mechanisms contribute to life’s evolution, what the theoretical and epistemological implications are for the standard evolutionary paradigm, and how reticulate evolution contributes to health and disease

Series: Interdisciplinary Evolution Research Volume: 3

By: Nathalie Gontier(Editor)

340 pages, 15 colour & 15 b/w illustrations


Hardback | Aug 2015 | #222198 | ISBN-13: 9783319163444
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1 week Details
NHBS Price: £126.00 $170/€142 approx

About this book

Written for non-experts, Reticulate Evolution introduces the mechanisms that underlie reticulate evolution. Chapters are either accompanied with glossaries that explain new terminology or timelines that position pioneering scholars and their major discoveries in their historical contexts. The contributing authors outline the history and original context of discovery of symbiosis, symbiogenesis, lateral gene transfer, hybridization or divergence with gene flow, and infectious heredity. By applying key insights from the areas of molecular (phylo)genetics, microbiology, virology, ecology, systematics, immunology, epidemiology and computational science, they demonstrate how reticulate evolution impacts successful survival, fitness and speciation.

Reticulate evolution brings forth a challenge to the standard Neo-Darwinian framework, which defines life as the outcome of bifurcation and ramification patterns brought forth by the vertical mechanism of natural selection. Reticulate evolution puts forward a pattern in the tree of life that is characterized by horizontal mergings and lineage crossings induced by symbiosis, symbiogenesis, lateral gene transfer, hybridization or divergence with gene flow, and infective heredity, making the "tree of life" look more like a "web of life." On an epistemological level, the various means by which hereditary material can be transferred horizontally challenges our classic notions of units and levels of evolution, fitness, modes of transmission, linearity, communities, and biological individuality.

The case studies presented examine topics including the origin of the eukaryotic cell and its organelles through symbiogenesis; the origin of algae through primary and secondary symbiosis and dinoflagellates through tertiary symbiosis; the superorganism and holobiont as units of evolution; how endosymbiosis induces speciation in multicellular life forms; transferrable and non-transferrable plasmids and how they symbiotically interact with their host; the means by which pro- and eukaryotic organisms transfer genes laterally (bacterial transformation, transduction and conjugation as well as transposons and other mobile genetic elements); hybridization and divergence with gene flow in sexually-reproducing individuals; current (human) microbiome and viriome studies that impact our knowledge concerning the evolution of organismal health and acquired immunity; and how symbiosis and symbiogenesis can be modelled in computational evolution.


1. Uniting Horizontal with Vertical Evolution into a Revised Evolutionary Synthesis - Nathalie Gontier
2. Symbiosis: Evolution's Co-author - Douglas Zook
3. Can we Understand Evolution Without Symbiogenesis? - Francisco Carrapico
4. Novel Endosymbioses as a Catalyst of Fast Speciation - Vitor Faria & Elio Sucena
5. Divergence-With-Gene-Flow - What Humans and Other Mammals Got Up To - Michael L. Arnold, Amanda N. Brothers, Jennafer A. P. Hamlin, Sunni J. Taylor and Noland H. Martin
6. What Lateral Gene Transfer Mechanisms Contribute to our Understanding of Evolution - Nathalie Gontier
7. How Bacteria Socialize: Cooperation, Ecology, and Individuality - Makmiller Pedroso
8. Virolution: Introducing the Virus-First and Collective Perspective - Luis Villarreal
9. Models of Multi-Species Evolution in Natural and Artificial Societies - Luis Correia and Antonio Manso

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Professor Nathalie Gontier has a background in both philosophy and anthropology, and holds a PhD in philosophy of science (evolutionary epistemology). She is the founding director of AppEEL – the Lisbon Applied Evolutionary Epistemology Lab which is part of the Centre for Philosophy of Science of the University of Lisbon. Her main research interests are philosophy of evolutionary biology (symbiogenesis, punctuated equilibria and abiogenesis), evolutionary epistemology (the units and levels of evolution debate and hierarchy theory) and the origin and evolution of language. Previously, she has been a part-time Professor of Philosophy of Science at the Dutch Free University of Brussels (Belgium); as a Marie Curie Fellow, she has worked at the division of Paleontology of the American Museum of Natural History (New York City, USA); she has been a post-doctoral fellow of the Portuguese Fund for Science and Technology; a research assistant for the Fund for Scientific Research Flanders (Belgium); and a research fellow at the Austrian Konrad Lorenz Institute.

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