Carrapiço, F. (2015) Can we understand evolution without symbiogenesis? Reticulate Evolution, Interdisciplinary Evolution Research 3 (ed. by R. Gontier), 81-105. Springer International Publishing, Switzerland.
This work is a contribution to the literature and knowledge on evolution that takes into account the biological data obtained on symbiosis and symbiogenesis. Evolution is traditionally considered a gradual process essentially consisting of natural selection, conducted on minimal phenotypical variations that are the result of mutations and genetic recombinations to form new species. However, the biological world presents and involves symbiotic associations between different organisms to form consortia, a new structural life dimension and a symbiont-induced speciation. The acknowledgment of this reality implies a new understanding of the natural world, in which symbiogenesis plays an important role as an evolutive mechanism. Within this understanding, symbiosis is the key to the acquisition of new genomes and new metabolic capacities, driving living forms’ evolution and the establishment of biodiversity and complexity on Earth. This chapter provides information on some of the key figures and their major works on symbiosis and symbiogenesis and reinforces the importance of these concepts in our understanding of the natural world and the role they play in the establishing of the evolutionary complexity of living systems. In this context, the concept of the symbiogenic superorganism is also discussed.