The immune system, pre-network paradigms


Species of living creatures can only be successful in evolution, i.e. multiply to large numbers and exist for extended periods of time, if they are adapted to a habitat, i.e. are able to make use of special resources in the habitat for shelter and nourishment. Other species, if they compete for the same resources in the same habitat, but do so less successfully, are eliminated by starvation and slower reproduction, if not by direct killing. A special type of competition involves the use of one species by another as its habitat. For example, multicellular organisms, from plants to mammals, provide a very good habitat for small organisms such as bacteria, parasites, or fungi, which are adapted to feed on the substances of which multicellular organisms largely consist, i.e. proteins, polysaccharides, and lipids. Viruses, without life by themselves, only begin to live after they enter living cells of a suitable host. Some of these microorganisms make use of the resources provided by their multicellular hosts without harming them, and are thus harmless commensals. Others even provide essential metabolites that the host organism is unable to produce and are thus useful symbionts. A large number of microorganisms, however, cause diseases and some can kill a multicellular host, they are pathogens. There are many intermediate relationships, for example certain microbes are harmless for a healthy host but can harm a host that is compromised in its health, so-called facultative pathogens. The evolutionary success of multicellular organisms thus depends on their ability to deal with the constant onslaught of a multitude of parasitic microbes1.


Multicellular Organism Clonal Selection Tetanus Toxin Immune Seron Instructional Theory 
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Further reading

  1. Claman HN (1963) Tolerance to a protein antigen in adult mice and the effect of non-specific factors. J Immunol 91: 833PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Ohno S (1970) Evolution by gene duplication. Springer Verlag, New YorkGoogle Scholar
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  4. Jerne HK, Nordin AA (1963) Plaque formation in agar by single antibody-producing cells. Science 140: 405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Potter M (1972) Immunoglobulin-producing tumors and myeloma proteins in mice. Physiol Rev 52: 631PubMedGoogle Scholar

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