On 06 Nov 2013, at 07:14, Chris de Morsella wrote:


A human has something like ten times as many bacteria in its body than it does cells with human DNA. Pretty much all life forms are in fact complex multi-species ecosystems that by and large have evolved to work together in ways we hardly understand. To give some perspective I’ve read there are something like fifty species of microorganisms that specialize just on the highly specialized niche of living on human tooth enamel. That’s just our teeth! We haven’t even gotten to the gum lines (which are a veritable jungle thriving with microbial life) and the gut, which is microbial central. We are sieves and the world flows through our bodies; we are walking, talking ecosystems…. And so is every other living thing, that we can see. Even bacteria have bacteriophages. Even within a single cell; mitochondria carry their own DNA and it could be argued the modern cell is the fruit of an ancient union of previously different life forms in the distant origins of emergent life.

Most cells organels are ancient bacteria, apparently. Some think that the nucleus might be an ancient virus.

Are we organisms; or ecosystems?

Our bodies are both, I would say. But we are not our bodies, we are our values, ideas, memories, etc. That runs through a complex colony of bacteria, microbes, and modern cells, which are quite plausibly the result of ancient bacteria and viruses associations. I think.

Bruno




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