International Society for History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology

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TUESDAY, JULY 7  /  11:00 - 12:30  /  DS-1545
Organized session / diverse format
Ecological Approaches to Organismal Development

Thomas Pradeu (Université de Bordeaux, France)


Thomas Pradeu (Université de Bordeaux, France)
Karine Prévot (Université Paris-Ouest Nanterre La Défense, France)
Scott Gilbert (Swarthmore College, United States)
Ehab Abouheif (McGill University, Canada)

The development of an organism has traditionally been conceived as the unfolding of internal capacities, in particular through the ideas of developmental “autonomy” and “program”. Recently, however, many phenomena have been described that involve the environment actively regulating development, leading to a new perspective called “ecological developmental biology.” Many specialists consider this a major conceptual and experimental revolution (Gilbert and Epel 2009; Nyholm and McFall-Ngail 2014). Some environmental influences on embryological development have long been known, but they have been largely neglected. Three major changes have occurred in the last decade:

i) Key technological changes, in particular high throughput DNA sequencing, have made it possible to characterize the genomic structure and function of entire microbial communities;
ii) Biologists have revealed a whole new continent of symbiotic interactions, through which “influential passengers,” such as bacteria or viruses, are critically involved in the development and the physiology of their host (Gilbert and Epel 2009; Pradeu 2011; Nyholm and McFall-Ngail 2014), including regarding the nervous system and cognitive capacities;
iii) It is now possible to study ecological influences on development at the evolutionary scale, in particular endocrine signaling, influences due to the social environment, and ecological interactions (Abouheif et al. 2014).

Participants in this session will explore in detail how the environment impacts development, and they will demonstrate that understanding these phenomena requires that developmental biology articulate with other biological fields, including microbiology, ecology and evolution.

Thomas Pradeu An ecosystemic individuality? Host-symbionts interactions in the development of the organism
Karine Prévot Developmental symbiosis: how to understand the spatial and temporal frontiers of the developmental individuals?
Scott F. Gilbert The microbe-gut-brain axis: Symbionts and cognitive individuality
Ehab Abouheif Eco-Evo-Devo: The time has come