(Thread) Coral, microbiome & the philosophy of biological research

(1/12) V. thought provoking seminar today @TRI_info by Prof John Huss entitled ‘Ecological medicine & medical ecology’. Discussed were ecological strategies for #coralremediation and the #microbiome. But more interesting was unpacking the #philosophy of biological research!….

(2/12) The field of microbiome #research is still very young, and it’s hard to get a handle on what is established and where exactly the field will progress

(3/12) However, there seem to be two different concepts thrown around when people talk about the microbiome:
a) Micro-biome: a biome of microbes, an ecological conception.
b) Microbi-ome: the microbial genome, a molecular conception.

(4/12) When we discuss #health & #illness of a natural system (i.e. coral), what do we really mean? They are both just evolutionary stable states. Our microbiota don’t care if we die, as long as they can be passed on. ‘Health’ is just a human-projected, normative concept

(5/12) When looking into coral #remediation strategies, it could be more useful to assess the system’s adaptive capacity to adjust to the ‘new normal’ environmental condition, rather than forcing a return to the prior state  bit.ly/2Dy8mu4

(6/12) One example for coral bleaching may be the ‘#probiotic approach’ – driving the reacquisition of thermally-tolerant coral Symbiodinium (their symbiotic photosynthetic algae) 

(7/12) But speaking now in evolutionary terms, the inclusion of the microbiome revives the previously incompatible link between Lamarckian and Darwinian #evolution AND flips Darwin’s assertion of “species as a set of organisms” to “organisms to a set of species”

(8/12) Where do you draw the line between Ecosystem and Organism??

(9/12) While study into the dynamics of these #holobiont (a host plus their microbiota) systems is promising for ecological medicine & medical ecology, how useful is the holobiont definition in the context of evolution?

(10/12) When we partition phenotypic variance, it falls into genetic, environment and gene-by-environment interaction. Surely the microbiome should be partitioned as environment, with interacton with the host genome, even if it is an internal environment…?

(11/12) When determining phenotypic variance, “the compositional and functional diversity of the human microbiome must be taken into account”, possibly as a term Variance_microbiome?

The Human Microbiome and the Missing Heritability Problem https://bit.ly/2TuCOuA

(12/12) On a parting note, thanks heaps to Prof. John Huss from the University of Akron @uakron for the fascinating seminar and great conversation afterwards! You have kicked the philosophical realm of my mind into gear and I certainly have a lot to think about!

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