Ecological Scaffolding and the Evolution of Individuality
Life is hierarchically structured, with replicating entities nested within higher order self-replicating structures. Such hierarchical structure reflects a series of major evolutionary transitions in which lower order self-replicating entities have been subsumed within higher order structures. Typically this involves the lower level entity "giving up its right to autonomous replication" and with this "sacrifice" comes enslavement to the "Needs" of the higher order "corporate Body". Posed in these terms it is difficult to see how evolutionary transitions unfold; how selection might shift levels and why life is hierarchically structured. Pressing to the heart of the problem, the challenge is to explain how Darwinian properties emerge from non-Darwinian entities by non-Darwinian means.
Paul B. Rainey ist Direktor der Abteilung für Mikrobielle Populationsbiologie am MPI für Evolutionsbiologie sowie Gruppenleiter des Laboratoire de Génétique de l’Evolution an der ESPCI Paris und derzeit Visiting Fellow am CAS.