Considering intra-­individual genetic heterogeneity to understand biodiversity

E. Boon

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In this chapter, I am concerned with the concept of Intra-individual Genetic Hetereogeneity (IGH) and its potential influence on biodiversity estimates. Definitions of biological individuality are often indirectly dependent on genetic sampling -and vice versa. Genetic sampling typically focuses on a particular locus or set of loci, found in the the mitochondrial, chloroplast or nuclear genome. If ecological function or evolutionary individuality can be defined on the level of multiple divergent genomes, as I shall argue is the case in IGH, our current genetic sampling strategies and analytic approaches may miss out on relevant biodiversity. Now that more and more examples of IGH are available, it is becoming possible to investigate the positive and negative effects of IGH on the functioning and evolution of multicellular individuals more systematically. I consider some examples and argue that studying diversity through the lens of IGH facilitates thinking not in terms of units, but in terms of interactions between biological entities. This, in turn, enables a fresh take on the ecological and evolutionary significance of biological diversity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrom assessing to conserving biodiversity
Subtitle of host publicationconceptual and practical challenges
EditorsElena Casetta, Jorge Marques da Silva, Davide Vecchi
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-10991-2
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-10990-5
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2019

Publication series

NameHistory, Philosophy and Theory of the Life Sciences
ISSN (Print)2211-1948
ISSN (Electronic)2211-1956


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