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  1. What is evolution?.
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Parents do pass along microbes to their offspring. Although eventually the microbial community changes as the child moves more freely through the world, these early microbes play an outsize role in immune system development. But if a significant portion of it is, he and others argue that those interactions and their evolution might be understood as a unit of selection. Other researchers think the hologenome concept of evolution stretches the notion of a selectable unit to the point of incoherence.

Louis who studies microbes. Skillings further argues that the repeated co-occurrence of species in nature does not imply that they have shared interests. Consider a host and a parasite locked in perpetual conflict: Every generation, they come together and attempt to subvert each other. You could even imagine a familial line of hosts being infected by the same familial line of parasites.

What is Darwin's Theory of Evolution?

Proponents of the hologenome concept acknowledge that cooperation, conflict and even neutrality can influence the evolution of the holobiont, making the disagreement less about the facts of the matter, and more about how to approach them. Critics of holobiont-centered theories are not discounting the importance of studying the interconnections between microbes and hosts, but they think the holobiont framework is almost always misleading.

They envision the holobiont as an ecological community, not an evolutionary individual. But translating existing ecological and evolutionary theory to this new microbial world is more easily said than done, cautions Britt Koskella , a biologist at the University of California, Berkeley.

Take ecological succession, a framework for evaluating how a community assembles over time. The state of a plant community on a new island, for example, may depend much more on the order in which species arrived and the niches they filled than on the local evolution of the plants, because evolution is usually so much slower. But bacteria evolve much faster than plants and animals, and they can swap genes instantaneously via horizontal gene transfer.

Bacterial succession might work in different, counterintuitive ways from traditional succession. She argues that theoreticians need to think through basic assumptions made by their models and consider whether they apply equally well to microbes, and empiricists need to test the predictions of those models. Settling empirical questions, such as how often a substantial portion of the holobiont is inherited, and how stable communities are across generations, will help sharpen intuition and inform theoretical work. One radical idea seeks to forge a third way forward by turning the problem on its head.

Instead, the processes themselves form a sort of evolutionary lineage. Doolittle and Booth begin from the observation that gut microbiomes contain a wide diversity of species and strains across many bacterial taxonomic groups but exhibit a remarkable conservation of core functions performed by those organisms. These networks of different players participate in metabolic cycles, in which a set of bacteria converts nutrients to metabolites, which get picked up by other bacteria to produce a different metabolite, which gets used by the host, and the cycle continues.

Many of these functional steps can be carried out by myriad strains present in the gut, making any given strain potentially redundant. But the cycle itself continues, regardless of which cells are enacting it. Doolittle illustrates the idea using the nitrogen cycle. Atmospheric nitrogen gets churned through a series of chemical states by a diverse assortment of bacteria, plants and decomposers like fungi performing different reactions.

Once these networks exist, they create a niche for other microbes to occupy. The cycle becomes a sort of structure for various lineages to grab onto, a way for them to make a living. Charles Darwin observed that although individuals in a species shared similarities, they were not exact copies of each other; there were small differences or variations between them.

He also noticed that everything in the natural world was in competition. The winners were those that had characteristics which made them better adapted for survival. For example, they were stronger, faster, cleverer or more attractive than others in their species. These living things were more likely to reproduce and pass on their useful characteristics to their offspring.

Individuals that were poorly adapted were less likely to survive and their characteristics were not as likely to be inherited. Over time, the characteristics that help survival become more common and a species gradually changes. Given enough time, these small changes can add up to the extent that a new species altogether can evolve. Life timeline.

This box: view talk edit. Single-celled life. Multicellular life. Earliest water. Earliest life. Earliest oxygen.

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Atmospheric oxygen. Oxygen crisis.

Evolving a Human! - Evolution Simulator

Sexual reproduction. Earliest plants. Ediacara biota. Cambrian explosion. Earliest apes. See also: Human timeline , and Nature timeline. Main article: Evolutionary history of life. See also: Timeline of evolutionary history of life. Further information: Common descent and Evidence of common descent. Main articles: Evolutionary history of life and Timeline of evolutionary history of life. Main articles: Applications of evolution , Selective breeding , and Evolutionary computation.

Further information: Social effects of evolutionary theory , Oxford evolution debate , Creation—evolution controversy , Objections to evolution , and Evolution in fiction. Argument from poor design Biocultural evolution Biological classification Evidence of common descent Evolution in Variable Environment Evolutionary anthropology Evolutionary ecology Evolutionary epistemology Evolutionary neuroscience Evolution of biological complexity Evolution of plants Project Steve Timeline of the evolutionary history of life Universal Darwinism.

Archived from the original on Evolution Fourth ed. Sunderland, Massachusetts: Sinauer Associates, Inc. May Evolutionary processes are generally thought of as processes by which these changes occur. Four such processes are widely recognized: natural selection in the broad sense, to include sexual selection , genetic drift, mutation, and migration Fisher ; Haldane The latter two generate variation; the first two sort it.

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    What is natural selection?

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