In the science fiction short story
"Specialist" by Robert Sheckley
, published in 1953 in Galaxy magazine
, it is revealed that many galactic races are actually capable of symbiotic cooperation to become bioships, with each race forming a different part. Earth, apparently, is one of the planets inhabited by creatures that are supposed to function as FTL drives (Pushers), and, it is stated that all the conflicts and discontent of humanity are due to the fact that, while they have matured, they have nowhere to apply their true purpose. This story is perhaps the first mention of a bioship in science fiction.
No; as is so often the case Olaf Stapledon got there first - among the many species he describes in Starmaker
(1937) are symbiotes that eventually evolve into a starfaring species with one "partner" as pilot/crew and the other bio-engineered to serve as the spacecraft.
Also virtual reality and worldships. But that's a new one to me. Isn't human imagination wonderful?
Edit: If i recall correctly Freeman Dyson borrowed the concept of a Dyson Sphere from Stapledon and worked it out more scientifically. Should have called it a Stapledon sphere!