Hologenome theory of evolution - Wikipedia

The hologenome theory of evolution, also known as the hologenome concept of evolution,[1][2][3] recasts the individual animal or plant (and other multicellular organisms) as a community or a “holobiont” – the host plus all of its symbiotic microbes. Consequently, the collective genomes of the holobiont form a “hologenome”. Holobionts and hologenomes are structural entities[4] that replace misnomers in the context of host-microbiota symbioses such as superorganism (i.e., an integrated social unit composed of conspecifics), organ, and metagenome. Variation in the hologenome may encode phenotypic plasticity of the holobiont and can be subject to evolutionary changes caused by selection and drift, if portions of the hologenome are transmitted between generations with reasonable fidelity. One of the important outcomes of recasting the individual as a holobiont subject to evolutionary forces is that genetic variation in the hologenome can be brought about by changes in the host genome and also by changes in the microbiome, including new acquisitions of microbes, horizontal gene transfers, and changes in microbial abundance within hosts. Although there is a rich literature on binary host–microbe symbioses, the hologenome concept distinguishes itself by including the vast symbiotic complexity inherent in many multicellular hosts.