Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Symbiosis terminology thoughts

I posted recently on epidemiology. Here are some more thoughts about the terminology of symbiosis along similar lines.

The term symbiosis needs to more explicitly cover distant relationships - such as between human and strawberry. Predation and some forms of direct competition such as combat should probably be included.

We need a term for the start of a symbiosis. Symbiogenesis should probably be that term. Most attempts at a current definition of that term appear to be a mess.

We need a term for a symbiosis that forms a functional organism - such as a Portuguese Man o'War. I propose "symbiorganism". The term "symbiome" has been previously used in this context - but it doesn't seem up to the job to me.

"Transmissible" and "transmissibility" are quite a mouthful and is even worse. "Infectious"/"infectiousness" and "virulent"/"virulence" are pretty parasite-specific. It isn't clear what to do about this. Perhaps we could use "spreadable" and "spreadability".

If we are having endosymbiosis, exosymbiosis, ectosymbiosis and aposymbiosis, then "exosymbiosis" should probably refer to the union of ectosymbiosis and aposymbiosis.

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