Quantitative steps in symbiogenesis and the evolution of homeostasis

Kooijman, S.A.L.M., P. Auger, P., Poggiale, J.C. and Kooi, B.W. 2003. Quantitative steps in symbiogenesis and the evolution of homeostasis. Biol. Rev. 78: 435 - 463.


The merging of two independent populations of heterotrophs and autotrophs into a single population of mixotrophs occurred frequently in evolutionary history. It is just one example of a wide class of related phenomena, known as symbiogenesis. The physiological basis is almost always (reciprocal) syntrophy, where each species uses the products of the other species. Symbiogenesis can repeat itself after specialization steps for assimilatory substrates.

We discuss the quantitative aspects and delineate eight steps from two free-living interacting populations to a single fully integrated endosymbiontic one. The whole process of gradual interlocking of the two populations could be mimicked by incremental changes of particular parameter values. The role of products gradually degrade from an ecological to a physiological one. We found conditions where the free-living, epibiontic and endobiontic populations of symbionts can co-exist, as well as conditions where the endobiontic symbionts outcompete other symbionts. Our population dynamical analyses give new insights in the evolution of cellular homeostasis.

We show how structural biomass with a constant chemical composition can evolve in a chemically varying environment if the parameters for the formation of products satisfy simple constraints. No additional regulation mechanisms are required for homeostasis within the context of the Dynamic Energy Budget (DEB) theory for the uptake and use of substrates by organisms. The DEB model appears to be closed under endosymbiosis. This means that when each free-living partner follows the DEB rules for substrate uptake and use, and they become engaged in an endosymbiontic relationship, a gradual transition to a single fully integrated system is possible that again follows the DEB rules for substrate uptake and use.

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Power Point presentation for the SMB meeting, Knoxville, 2002/07/13-16

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