Using artificial systems to explore the ecology and evolution of symbioses

  • Babak Momeni
  • Chi-Chun Chen
  • Kristina L. Hillesland
  • Adam Waite
  • Wenying ShouEmail author
Multi-author review


The web of life is weaved from diverse symbiotic interactions between species. Symbioses vary from antagonistic interactions such as competition and predation to beneficial interactions such as mutualism. What are the bases for the origin and persistence of symbiosis? What affects the ecology and evolution of symbioses? How do symbiotic interactions generate ecological patterns? How do symbiotic partners evolve and coevolve? Many of these questions are difficult to address in natural systems. Artificial systems, from abstract to living, have been constructed to capture essential features of natural symbioses and to address these key questions. With reduced complexity and increased controllability, artificial systems can serve as useful models for natural systems. We review how artificial systems have contributed to our understanding of symbioses.


Synthetic biology Artificial symbiosis Ecology Evolution 



We are grateful for the feedback from Ben Kerr, Justin Burton, Sri Ram, Kazufumi Hosoda, Jake Cooper, Barbara Bengtsson, and George Moore. Work in Shou group is supported by the W.M. Keck Foundation, the National Institutes of Health (Grant # 1 DP2 OD006498-01), and the National Science Foundation BEACON Science and Technology Center. Work by Hillesland was part of the US Department of Energy Genomics Sciences program: ENIGMA is a Scientific Focus Area Program supported by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research, Genomics: GTL Foundational Science through contract DE-AC02-05CH11231 between Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy.


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Babak Momeni
    • 1
  • Chi-Chun Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kristina L. Hillesland
    • 3
  • Adam Waite
    • 1
    • 4
  • Wenying Shou
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Basic SciencesFred Hutchinson Cancer Research CenterSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Research Center for Biodiversity, Academia SinicaTaipeiTaiwan
  3. 3.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  4. 4.Molecular and Cellular Biology ProgramUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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