Posted by: Randall Niles | July 29, 2009

Symbiosis

Sorry for my two-week hiatus from THINK BLAST. I was on a tremendous dive trip in the Caribbean!

Along with a jerk salsa recipe and big toe infection, one meaningful thing I brought back from my trip was a deeper appreciation for the wonder of symbiotic relationships on our planet. After eight dives on various reefs and wrecks, I’m awestruck by the wonder of “symbiosis.”

As we remember from middle school science class, symbiosis describes the mutual relationship between certain types of organic life. Remarkably, many of these interdependent relationships are totally required for survival, right from the start.

For instance, coral reef ecosystems require “mutualism” of various organisms and algae to survive and grow. Land ecosystems require plants converting carbon from the air, and fungi extracting minerals from the ground. Herbivores need micro-organisms in their digestive tract to convert plant matter to energy, and many flowering plants require unique insects to pollinate and reproduce.

You get the point… Our planet is finely-tuned with a wide variety of necessary, symbiotic relationships. Without them, many interdependent organisms cease to exist.

While delayed in Miami, I researched symbiosis and kept coming across the scientific concept of “co-evolution.” Co-evolution is the attempt to address the myriad of plant, animal, fungi, and micro-organism relationships that are totally interdependent and required for mutual survival. In a nutshell, co-evolution declares that the countless “miracles” of Darwinian evolution didn’t just happen one at a time, in a distinct tree of changing species, but at least two at a time, side-by-side, at the exact same moment in genetic history.

Wow, symbiosis puts a whole new spin on evolutionary theory.

Something to think about,

Randall Niles

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