Frank, S. A. 2007. All of life is social. Current Biology 17:R648-R650.
Sociality means living in groups. Group living intensifies two opposing forces. On one side, proximity exacerbates conflict for local resources. On the other side, cooperation with neighbors may enhance group efficiency and aid in competition against other groups. Starting in the 1960s, biologists made many conceptual advances in understanding the forces of conflict and cooperation that shape social life. That new understanding was applied with great success to honey bees, macaques, and other obviously social, group-living species. Then biologists began to recognize the social history of other types of groups. For example, multicellularity originated through a complex evolutionary history of cellular aggregations, in which the opposing social forces of conflict and cooperation likely played a key role. Similarly, genomes arose through social histories of genetic aggregations and organelle symbioses. Several aspects of multicellularity, of genomes, of societies, and of cognition can be understood only within the social history of conflict and cooperation. This special issue of Current Biology presents a series of reviews and primers on sociality and its consequences.
[Rest of article provides an overview of sociality as an introduction to the special issue.]