Chapter 2 : Causality in Biological Transmission: Forces and Energies

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The immediate mental representation of the concept of transmission for the public health epidemiologist, clinical microbiologist, or infectious diseases specialist concerns its application to the transmission of pathogenic microorganisms or the transmission of infections. Note that the widely used term “transmissible diseases” is certainly most inappropriate. Disease is the result of particular cross talk between microbe and host and is never transmissible as such. The infective process is what the microbe produces inside a particular host, which is well illustrated in the Latin origin of the word “infection,” derived from ( + ): “to put in, to dip into, to do an action inside.” Microbes are transmissible, not the infection. In general biology, the most frequent use of “transmission” applies to the transmission of hereditary characters (to the progeny), as in population genetics ( ). To our knowledge, a broad conceptual understanding of transmission has not yet been attempted, although Hugh Dingle has approached the need of expanding the transmission-related concept of migration to different hierarchical levels ( ). In this review, I intend to present the concept of transmission in a broad perspective, as a basic biological and evolutionary process, focusing particularly on the causes (forces and energies) governing transmission, a hitherto neglected field in biological and epidemiological research. For this purpose, it is appropriate to review what we collectively have in mind when considering the concept of transmission.

Citation: Baquero F. 2019. Causality in Biological Transmission: Forces and Energies, p 17-31. In Baquero F, Bouza E, Gutiérrez-Fuentes J, Coque T (ed), Microbial Transmission. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.MTBP-0018-2016
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Figure 1

- and -acting modes of transmission. In -acting transmission, biological individuals (circles) belonging to different hierarchical levels (different sizes) are transmitted from one individual to another of a different level, giving rise to embedded entities acting as new complex individuals. In -acting transmission, biological individuals of different complexities are transmitted from a patch to another one, keeping their hierarchical level.

Citation: Baquero F. 2019. Causality in Biological Transmission: Forces and Energies, p 17-31. In Baquero F, Bouza E, Gutiérrez-Fuentes J, Coque T (ed), Microbial Transmission. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.MTBP-0018-2016
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Image of Figure 2
Figure 2

A puzzle representation of centripetal energies in the receiver patch. (Left) Reception of the transmitted entity (broken line, small puzzle piece) in the organized puzzle pattern is assured by local energies (centripetal bonding arrows). (Right) The organized puzzle is bent by external influences, arriving at a catastrophic event leading to a local disintegration of the puzzle pieces, liberating the centripetal energies and eventually creating forces (centrifugal arrows) for new transmission events.

Citation: Baquero F. 2019. Causality in Biological Transmission: Forces and Energies, p 17-31. In Baquero F, Bouza E, Gutiérrez-Fuentes J, Coque T (ed), Microbial Transmission. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.MTBP-0018-2016
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