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What'sNEW

23 Feb 2017 What'sNEW about HGT |
The horizontal transfer of transposable elements ...should be regarded as a pivotal force in eukaryotic genome evolution.
Ecological networks to unravel the routes to horizontal transposon transfers, by Venner S, Miele V, Terzian C, Biémont C, Daubin V, Feschotte C, et al., doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.2001536, PLOS Biology, 15 February 2017.
> Viruses... has links to many examples of the horizontal transfer of genetic material affecting eukaryotes.

22 Feb 2017
Our observations reveal that at least seven planets with sizes and masses similar to those of Earth revolve around TRAPPIST-1. ...[They] have equilibrium temperatures low enough to make possible the presence of liquid water on their surfaces. at least seven planets with sizes and masses similar to those of Earth revolve around TRAPPIST-1

Seven temperate terrestrial planets around the nearby ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1, by Michaël Gillon et al., doi:10.1038/nature21360, Nature, 23 February 2017.
Scientists discover 7 'Earthlike' planets orbiting a nearby star by Sarah Kaplan, The Washington Post, 22 Feb 2017.
"On the eve of War, Churchill wrote essay about extraterrestrial life," by Traci Watson, USA Today, 16 Feb, 2017. He was not "sufficiently conceited to think that my sun is the only one with a family of planets."
> Life on Europa, Other Moons, Other Planets?... has related links. Thanks Thanks, Bob Sweeney and Ronnie McGhee.


Naica's crystal caves hold long-dormant life by Jonathan Amos, BBC, 18 Feb 2017.
> Bacteria... is a related webpage. Thanks Thanks, Stan Franklin.

19 Feb 2017
ESPs that have been identified in Asgard archaea Archeae contain many eukaryotic signature proteins (ESPs). Some of them previously identified are GTPases, actin homologues, ubiquitin modifier system components and homologues of eukaryotic protein translocation and glycosylation pathways. Now more ESPs are seen among a newly-designated clade of archae named Asgard. They include a subunit of eukaryotic DNA polymerase, a eukaryotic ribosomal protein, key components of the eukaryotic cytoskeleton and membrane trafficking proteins. The schematic representation of a eukaryotic cell (right) highlights ESPs that have been identified in Asgard archaea, with colored tables indicating their distribution among those species.

The overall picture indicates that the archaeal ancestor of eukaryotes already contained many key components underlying the emergence of cellular complexity that is characteristic of eukaryotes, this research team says in summary. As darwinists, they suppose that an archaeal ancestor must have had some use for the ESPs after all. But in cosmic ancestry, genes always come first. If they weren't often found in species preceding the need for them, we would be surprised.

Asgard archaea illuminate the origin of eukaryotic cellular complexity, Katarzyna Zaremba-Niedzwiedzka et al., doi:10.1038/nature21031, Nature, 19 Jan 2017; and commentary:
Mind the gaps in cellular evolution, by McInerney and O'Connell, Nature, 19 Jan 2017.
> Metazoan Genes Older Than Metazoa? and > Genes Older Than Earth? are related webpages.


> email to Ted Steele on the origin of life, 17 Feb 2017.

17 Feb 2017 What'sNEW about HGT |
...giant viruses present an astonishing arsenal of genes not widespread in the virosphere, some of them related to important steps of the translational process.... This remark comes from a team of French and Brazilian virologists who are especially interested in mimiviruses. These viruses (example pictured) have a genome that resides in a single linear dsDNA molecule of up to ~1,250 Kb that may have ~1,000 open reading frames. Some of the ORFs are genes related to protein synthesis, tRNAs, and translation factors, a complete surprise. Mimivirus FROM GiantVirus.org

The researchers are specifically interested in the phylogeny and ultimate origin of the mimiviruses. Were their [viral?] ancestors even more complex, or less complex? Despite many theories, the origin and evolution of mimiviruses remains a breathtaking mystery. It is not yet possible to exclude any specific scenario of giant viruses' evolution.

Darwinian logic does exclude the scenario we prefer. In cosmic ancestry, viruses are the main vector for the horizontal transfer (HGT) of cellular genes into species that can use them. We are not surprised if mimiviruses contain genes for tRNAs, protein synthesis, translation factors and more.

The analysis of translation-related gene set boosts debates around origin and evolution of mimiviruses, Jônatas Santos Abrahão, Rodrigo Araújo et al., PLOS Genetics, 16 Feb 2017.
> Viruses... has a primer and links to ~1,000 examples of HGT, mostly by viruses.


17 Feb 2017
organic-rich region at Ernutet crater on Ceres Ceres ...joins Mars and several satellites of the giant planets in the list of locations in the solar system that may harbor life. The dwarf planet has water. Now, infrared spectra taken from the orbiting Dawn spacecraft reveal organic-rich regions in and around its ~50-kilometer Ernutet crater.
Localized aliphatic organic material on the surface of Ceres, by M. C. De Sanctis et al., doi:10.1126/science.aaj2305; and commentary: Dwarf planet Ceres and the ingredients of life, by Michael Küppers, Science, 17 Feb 2017.
> Life on Europa, Other Moons, Other Planets?... has related links. Thanks Thanks, Ronnie McGhee for pointing to Life's Building Blocks Found on Dwarf Planet Ceres by Mike Wall, 16 Feb 2017.

08 Feb 2017
Chandra Wickramasinghe is interviewed about his early life and education by Newsfirst Sri Lanka: 30-min. YouTube video posted 07 Feb 2017. > Wickramasinghe's 1981 statement in Arkansas precedes more links about him.

04 Feb 2017
...All our conclusions on the course of evolution until the advent of genomics had been indirect.
Eugene V. Koonin interviewed by Suzan Mazur, Huffington Post, transcript online 03 Feb 2017.

...multi-cellular eukaryotes ...are actually a derived and highly constrained evolutionary subset of the biosphere.
Advances in biodiversity: metagenomics and the unveiling of biological dark matter, by Robert J. Robbins, Leonard Krishtalka and John C. Wooley, doi:10.1186/s40793-016-0180-8, Stand Genomic Sci., online 09 Sep 2016.

Sedimentary organic carbon is oxidized with little recycling. Atmospheric oxygen is controlled by feedbacks on carbon burial.
02 Feb 2017
Earth's atmosphere contained only 2% to 4% oxygen for a billion years, before the arrival of land plants about 470 million years ago. Then photosynthesis doubled. Forty million years later, land animals began to emerge.

We take this synopsis from a comprehensive new study by geographers at the University of Exeter, UK, who modeled the processes in the biosphere that produce and consume oxygen. Its history, including the long stasis, is puzzling. With isotope data, they make a plausible case that mineral, tectonic, biological, climatic, weathering and sedimentary processes with feedback loops can explain it. The study also supports our belief that slow Gaian processes can make a planet habitable, and then more advanced life can develop and flourish without delay.

The mechanism we describe provides a potential explanation for the overall stepwise evolution of atmospheric oxygen on Earth. Recycling of sedimentary organic carbon and its kinetically limited oxidation could have sustained low Proterozoic atmospheric oxygen levels.... The rise of oxygen to present levels simply required an increase in organic carbon burial rate, which may have begun in the Neoproterozoic Era, but in our model was not completed until the mid-Palaeozoic Era with the colonization of the land by plants and fungi, liberating nutrient phosphorus from rocks and producing high C/P material for burial.

Atmospheric oxygen regulation at low Proterozoic levels by incomplete oxidative weathering of sedimentary organic carbon, by Stuart J. Daines, Benjamin J. W. Mills and Timothy M. Lenton, doi:10.1038/ncomms14379, Nature Communications, online 02 Feb 2017; and commentary: Low level of oxygen in Earth's middle ages delayed evolution for two billion years, University of Exeter (+PhysOrg.com), 02 Feb 2017.
> Gaia has a primer and related links.

26 Jan 2017
Mars 2020 rover
Bursts of methane may have warmed early Mars, by Leah Burrows, Harvard Paulson School (+Newswise), 24 Jan 2017.
> Gaia is a possibly related webpage. Did bacteria make the methane?
25 Jan 2017
NASA is now building the rover that it hopes will bring back signs of life on the red planet.
The $2.4-billion plan to steal a rock from Mars, by Alexandra Witze, Nature News Feature, 18 Jan 2017.
> Life on Mars! has historical information and links.

17 Jan 2017 What'sNEW about HGT |
Phages can communicate via small molecules A virus that infects bacteria listens to messages from its relatives when deciding how to attack its hosts.
...Phages caught sending chemical messages, by Ewen Callaway, Nature News, 18 Jan 2017, re:
Communication between viruses guides lysis-lysogeny decisions, by Zohar Erez et al., doi:10.1038/nature21049; and commentary: ...Phages make a group decision by Alan R. Davidson, Nature, 18 Jan 2017.
...the choice [between lysis and lysogeny] in some phages is also profoundly influenced by communication, by means of small molecules, between phages infecting other cells in a culture.

We know that horizontal gene transfer (HGT) by viruses affects evolution. This new discovery makes their power among prokaryotes even more impressive. > Viruses... has a primer and related links.

16 Jan 2017
Scientists at the University of Chicago have created the first genetically modified animals containing reconstructed ancient genes, which they used to test the evolutionary effects of genetic changes that happened in the deep past on the animals' biology and fitness. ...The specific findings, involving the fruit fly's ability to break down alcohol in rotting fruit, overturn a widely-held hypothesis about the molecular causes of one of evolutionary biology's classic cases of adaptation. University of Chicago

The new method, pioneered in Joe Thornton's lab, apparently opens a new way to study adaptation. In our understanding, adaptation on the scale examined here would be categorized as microevolution. Macroevolution, by contrast, requires wholly new genetic programs that have not been shown to come from adaptive mutations of one or a few nucleotides. Therefore, the same method cannot be simply extended for studying macroevolution. Nevertheless, we are intrigued. ...because of technical and conceptual advances, it should now be possible to experimentally assess the causal predictions of many previously untested or weakly tested hypotheses of historical molecular adaptation....

Discovery overturns long-held genetic belief, The University of Chicago Medicine (+PhysOrg.com), 03 Jan 2017; re:
Experimental test and refutation of a classic case of molecular adaptation in Drosophila melanogaster, by Mohammad A. Siddiq et al., doi:10.1038/s41559-016-0025, Nature Ecology & Evolution, online 13 Jan 2017.
Thanks Thanks, Stan Franklin and Bob Sweeney. > Testing Darwinism versus Cosmic Ancestry is a related local webpage.
> Macroevolutionary Progress Redefined... reconsiders the difference between micro- and macroevolution.

12 Jan 2017
The population genetic theory replaces adaptationist just-so stories with testable predictions, and research aimed at falsification of these can improve our understanding of evolution.

In a new, wide-ranging essay, Eugene V. Koonin of the National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, considers the fitness landscapes of prokaryotes (large populations) versus eukaryotes (small populations). The latter allow for greater inventiveness, he concludes. To cope with this inescapable burden [introns], eukaryotes have evolved a global solution, the highly efficient splicing machinery. ...The nucleus itself may have evolved as a damage-control device that prevents the exit of unprocessed transcript to the cytoplasm. (How are these not more "Just-So" stories?) Just-So stories

Koonin is well aware of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) and de novo gene origination: mobile genetic elements (MGE) ...genes have been recruited for essential functions at key stages of eukaryotic evolution. But where the programming for these functions comes from is not a concern to him. If he wants a theory of evolution with testable predictions, may we suggest testing his predictions with quarantined experiments in biology or computer models?

Splendor and misery of adaptation, or the importance of neutral null for understanding evolution, by Eugene V. Koonin, doi:10.1186/s12915-016-0338-2, BMC Biology, 23 Dec 2016.
> Testing Darwinism versus Cosmic Ancestry and > The Evolution Prize are related local webpages.
> Neo-Darwinism: The Current Paradigm has a section with links about Fitness Landscapes.

11 Jan 2017 What'sNEW about HGT |
You can see rapid evolution in retroviruses over short time frames, but this is new evidence that they've been around for hundreds of millions of years — Michael Worobey, evolutionary virologist, University of Arizona.

New research provides another example of genetic systems older than standard darwinism expects them to be. The examples support cosmic ancestry, in which all genetic programs are very old. This research also confirms that these retroviruses can be transferred across diverse species and become permanently installed into their genomes.

Ancient retroviruses emerged half a billion years ago, by Carrie Arnold, Nature, 10 Jan 2017, re:
Marine origin of retroviruses in the early Palaeozoic Era, by Pakorn Aiewsakun & Aris Katzourakis, doi:10.1038/ncomms13954, Nature Communications, online 10 Jan 2017.
> Viruses..., > Metazoan Genes Older Than Metazoa? and > Genes Older Than Earth? are related local webpages.

Gary Ruvkun
06 Jan 2017
Either life developed here super-fast or it came full-on as DNA life from afar — Gary Ruvkun, (pictured) a principal investigator for The Search for Extraterrestrial Genomes.

In Search of Panspermia, by Marc Kaufman, Many Worlds, 05 Jan 2017.
The Search for Extraterrestrial Genomes (SETG), homepage at MIT.
Thanks Thanks, Google Alerts.
> Introduction: More Than Panspermia has historical information.
> What Is Life? is a related local webpage.
> The RNA World and Other Origin-of-Life Theories is a related local webpage.
COSMIC ANCESTRY | Quick Guide | Site Search | What'sNEW - Later - Earlier - Index | by Brig Klyce | All Rights Reserved