Slanted Truths pp 295-305 | Cite as

Words as Battle Cries— Symbiogenesis and the New Field of Endocytobiology

  • Lynn Margulis


Our minds are incarcerated by our words. The biological term symbiosis has been used in a way that obscures not only its literal meaning but also the phenomenon’s instrumental role in evolution. Biology textbooks define “symbiosis” anthropocentrically—as mutually helpful relationships or animal benefits, implying social contract or cost-benefit analysis by the partners. This definition is silly—symbiosis is a widespread biological phenomenon that preceded by eons the human world and the invention of money.


Literal Meaning Bacterial Symbiont Evolutionary Novelty Symbiosis Research Biology Textbook 
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  1. 1.
    Personal communication from J. W. Hastings, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; B. Kendrick, University of Waterloo, Canada; L. Muscatine, University of California, Los Angeles; K.H. Nealson, Center for Great Lakes Study, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; J. Sapp, University of Melbourne, Australia; D.C. Smith, Edinburgh University, Edinburgh, Scotland; and R. Trench, University of California, Santa Barbara.Google Scholar
  2. Like most incipient symbioses this one between journals failed to permanently establish itself. However the scientific community of scholars did succeed in holding an International Congress on Symbiosis research at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA April 13–18, 1997. The proceedings are forthcoming in the Balaban journal, Symbiosis, 1998. A new International Symbiosis Society (ISS) was founded.Google Scholar

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© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1997

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  • Lynn Margulis

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