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Biotech Authors: Greg Wind

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Smoking guns of Nature: AO theory of evolution

I am going to do just a few quickies on the biotech front. Few smoking guns on the lateral (aspect-like) distribution of genetic information outside of the normal mendelian inheritance.

In this month’s “Scientific American”. Pick up the “an antibiotic resistence fighter” from Gary Stix, it is a great article. It covers recent development of antibiotic drugs that basically shut down the path way for a virus to start a response to DNA replication blockers. In there I was interested in the following quote.

We are always looking for novel approaches, especially those that counteract resistance. This finding suggests one, but it is focused on a limited genetic mechanism of drug resistance- that is, chromosomal mutation (ed: inherintance in sofware). Other types of resistence can crop up to directly attack the antibiotic. They can be acquired by transferring resistance genes from one species of bacterium to another and also within the same species.

In other words, the bacterium survive by exchanging “patches” (resistance genes) outside of the mendelian inheritance, but rather dynamically by weaving in the code. Very AO’ish if you ask me, I find this to be a smoking gun of evidence and will dig into the papers on bacterium resistence that prove this dynamic weaving. Specifically I will be looking for the transport mechanisms by which this is done. I will be looking for the jar mechanisms that Nature employs.

In the February 16 issue of Nature, there is a featured article called “Marine microbes pool their DNA”. Basically a very useful protein called “Proteorhodopsin” does photosynthesis (nice, I want some!) and provide the organisms that adopt it a competitive edge.

In fact proteorhodopsin seems to be more of a reflection of this unique environment than of the the organisms in which it is found. DNA screening in waters collected off Hawaii suggest that the proteorhodopsin gene is shared by members of the archaea and Bacteria, two disparate microbial domains of life that co-exist in the photic zone via lateral gene transfer
Bingo! Bingo! Bingo! I find this to be proof of the AO hypothesis in evolution. They talk about “cross cutting concerns”, in this case, the capacity to photosynthesize light is a cross cutting concern across domains of life. That capacity is a function of the environment (light!). It is as if a zone comes with its own genetic apparatus, the equivalent of its own software infrastructure. It is offered to newcomers by advertising: “Use the light! It will become your own portable source of free energy”. I wish I had some, it would keep me from eating (heating? :). The species that weave this in are doped. I suspect that the mechanism is VIRUSES. I am so convinced that viruses are actually a key factor in evolution.

Thinking of it, I talk about it as it was a conscious decision, a “design choice” but it really isn’t. It just happens that the microbes that randomly have this sequence, have an evolutionary edge in the form of an additional source of free energy.

The individuals within the specie that are thus doped will self-select in the dynamics of growth and then competition for limited resources. I would be interested in knowing exactly by what mechanisms is the gene transferred or maybe “held” in the soup for the microbes to adopt. Could there be free floating gene sequences in mini forms?

Remembering the paper on “non-medelian inheritance in Arabidopsis” it is already hypothesized that free floating RNA would be the cache of genes that are used to patch damaged DNA. There is a genetic pathway that responds to a metabolic stress signals and results in a particular “emergency” genetic expression. Remember the paper on how to fight evolving viruses? You hyper accelerate the mutation rate of a virus with the help of ribavirin, and basically the message will be garbled by just time passing because you overwhelm the defense response capability of the repair mechanisms.

There is also a great paper, in I can’t remember what, on the fact that space travel is limited by the inability of our genetic machinery to sustain intense radiation levels, which randomly knock out bits in our DNA and thus mutate everything at a very high rate. One nice solution is you travel with your own ball of water around you but it overruns today economic capabilities of space rockets and the payload they can actually cary. I say you send a MOUSE in space and let the mouse figure it out? I say send a MILLION mice up there and see if one survives, they will have evolved the magic genes for high genetic repair mechanisms. THEN you splice THAT gene out and voila! just send THIS monkey in space.

I personally want to believe that the cache is more simply effectively "persisted" by microbal populations using viral messages. In this scenario, there IS NO such repository outside the specie but rather the spiece keeps its own cache which it at all times and them homogenizes through its genome population by the combination of viral propagation and retro-weaving. OR not :) This is the hypothesis I really want to believe in though.

Remember she loves you,

marcf

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