Biocomplexity

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Understanding collective behavior

Biocomplexity arises when the collective behavior of a biological system overwhelms the behavior of the individual components of the system. For example, microorganisms strongly influence and are influenced by the biogeochemical processes in their environment. They communicate by quorum sensing, as well as through exchange of genetic components. The result is a cooperative state of biological matter that can only be properly described by treating all components together, ranging from the genome, through the cellular and community structure, to the ecosystem level. Moreover, the multiscale structure of biological systems  can only be fully understood from understanding their evolution.  The Biocomplexity Theme (BCXT) strives to develop a quantitative perspective that is capable of addressing system-scale phenomena, using techniques and concepts from statistical physics, mathematics and computation, as well as diverse expertise in evolutionary ecology, in particular, microbial ecology.