Munzi, S., Cruz, C. & Corrêa, A. (2019) When the exception becomes the rule: an integrative approach to symbiosis.Science of the Total Environment, 672, 855-861. DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.04.038 (IF2018 5,589; Q1 Environmental Sciences)
Symbiosis, mainly due to the advances in -omics technology and to the microbiome revolution, is being increasingly acknowledged as fundamental to explain any aspect of life existence. Previously considered an exception, a peculiar characteristic of few systems like lichens, corals and mycorrhizas, symbiosis is nowadays recognized as the rule, with the microbiome being part of all living entities and systems. However, our knowledge of the ecological meaning and functioning of many symbiotic systems is still limited. Here, we discuss a new, integrative approach based on current findings that looks at commonalities among symbiotic systems to produce theoretical models and conceptual knowledge that would allow a more efficient exploitation of symbiosis-based biotechnologies. The microbiome recruitment and assemblage processes are indicated as one of the potential targets where a holistic approach could bring advantages. Finally, we reflect on the potential socio-economic and environmental consequences of a symbiotic view of the world, where co-dependence is the matrix of life.