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What'sNEW

13 Aug 2018
Dynamical and Biological Panspermia Constraints Within Multi-planet Exosystems by Dimitri Veras et al., Astrobiology, online 10 Aug 2018. We derive a probability distribution function for life-bearing debris to reach a planetary orbit, and describe the survival of micro-organisms during planetary ejection, their journey through interplanetary space, and atmospheric entry.

10 Aug 2018 What'sNEW about HGT |
It is ...very likely that the numbers of membrane vesicles and gene transfer agents in environmental samples have been greatly underestimated, and that their roles in genetic transfer in nature could be much greater than previously appreciated.
Small extracellular particles with big potential for horizontal gene transfer: membrane vesicles and gene transfer agents by M P Grüll, M E Mulligan and A S Lang, FEMS Microbiology Letters, 06 Aug 2018.
Viruses and Other Gene Transfer Mechanisms has background and links related to HGT.

From the late 1990s onwards, ...biologists began to realize that the horizontal exchange of genes between distantly related organisms is an important evolutionary force. — John Archibald in a review of:
The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life by David Quammen, reviewed in Nature, 31 Jul 2018.
Quammen interviewed by NPR's Scott Simon, Weekend Edition Saturday, 11 Aug 2018.

Earth, Mars, And The Theory Of 'Swapping Spit' by Bill Retherford, Forbes, 30 Jul 2018.

31 Jul 2018
Life in the Universe is the subject of Richard Hoover's address at Kazan National Research Technical University, Russia, 11 AM, 01 Aug 2018. ...Microfossils in a Carbonaceous Meteorite is one of our entries about Hoover.

30 Jul 2018
nematode Nematodes can survive 400,000 g's of acceleration and up to 42,000 years of freezing.
Caenorhabditis elegans Tolerates Hyperaccelerations up to 400,000 x g by Tiago Alves Jorge de Souza and Tiago Campos Pereira, Astrobiology, online 01 Jul 2018.
Viable Nematodes from Late Pleistocene Permafrost of the Kolyma River Lowland by A. V. Shatilovich et al., Doklady Biological Sciences, May 2018. Thanks Thanks, Ted Steele and Stan Franklin.

Longfins Inshore Squid from Pennis 2018
29 Jul 2018
...the one-celled ancestor of animals... was already well-equipped for multicellular life. ...All told, by surveying the active genes in 21 choanoflagellate species, [UC Berkeley biologist Nicole] King's group found that these 'simple' organisms have some 350 gene families once thought to be exclusive to multicellular animals....
Science writer Elizabeth Pennisi makes these observations in an illustrated review (example, right) concerning the evolution of multicelularity. Several respected research teams conclude that multicellularity must have evolved easily, because many of the needed genes were already installed in single-celled species. ...much of the molecular equipment needed for cells to band together and coordinate their activities may have been in place well before multicellularity evolved.

What functions the genes for multicellular features may have provided in one-celled species is uncertain, but, by darwinian logic, they must have done something. Else, the genes would not have been composed, nor preserved. Darwinists are adept at dealing with surprises, and indeed, former functions are suggested for several of these genes.

Our perspective is altogether different, because genes that are available before deployment are a logical requirement in cosmic ancestry. Examples are accumulating.

The power of many by Elizabeth Pennisi, doi:10.1126/science.360.6396.1388, Science, 29 Jun 2018.
Metazoan Genes Older Than Metazoa? and Genes Older Than Earth? have additional evidence.

27 Jul 2018 What'sNEW about HGT |
Minerals may preserve free DNA for horizontal gene transfer (HGT) to facilitate evolution according to a pair of European specialists in geo, bio, and chemical sciences. Mineral-bound DNA may persist for millenia in soils and ocean sediments. HGT by transformation may install it into prokaryotes, resulting in macroevolutionary progress with important consequences for the environment, they observe. We are intrigued. And we wonder, could glaciers or even comets carry mineral-bound DNA?

"On a global scale, free DNA (not part of a dead biomass) found in the uppermost 10 cm of recent marine sediments corresponds to about 0.30-0.45 Gt of DNA and might represent the largest reservoir of DNA in the oceans. Free DNA is found in the majority of Earth's surface ecosystems such as aqueous environments, soils and sediments. Up to 95% of this DNA is estimated to be in association with minerals and the prolonged longevity provided by this association significantly contributes to the available pool of evolutionary traits in the aqueous environments. When geologic processes and events start acting on this mineral archive of genes, we have a framework where minerals act as shuttles and facilitate transfer of evolutionary traits through time and across environments and can directly impact the evolution of life. HGT of DNA can occur though the transformation mechanism where the mineral adsorbed DNA are incorporated into the genome of a recipient organism and even fragmented and damaged DNA are able to transfer the genetic information. ...We advocate that the high amount of DNA associated with minerals can function as an archive for genes and evolutionary innovations which could be distributed across environments and timescales at a rate that depends on mineral assemblages, sedimentary processes and geochemical conditions." (references omitted)

Mineral facilitated horizontal gene transfer: A new principle for evolution of life? by Karina K. Sand and Stanislav Jelavić, doi:10.1101/235531, BioRxiv, preprint online 21 Dec 2017.
Viruses and Other Gene Transfer Mechanisms has background and links related to HGT.
Genes Older Than Earth? describes an analysis also heavily referenced in the new article.
Do thawing glaciers speed up evolution? is a possibly related entry, posted 26 Dec 2007.

radar imaging detects underground lake on Mars
25 Jul 2018
We interpret this feature as a stable body of liquid water on Mars.
Radar evidence of subglacial liquid water on Mars by Roberto Orosei et al., Science, 25 Jul 2018. In this kind of environment that we know of on Earth, in the Antarctic, we have bacteria — coauthor Elena Pettinelli.
A Watery Lake Is Detected on Mars, Raising the Potential for Alien Life by Kenneth Chang and Dennis Overbye, The New York Times, 25 Jul 2018.
Underground Lake Found on Mars?... by Nadia Drake, National Geographic, 25 Jul 2018.
Liquid Water on Mars! Really... by Emily Lakdawalla, Sky & Telescope, 25 Jul 2018.
+ The rendering adapted from David Borga, Media INAF, shows ESA's Mars Express with radar pointing to the feature near Mars' icy south pole, via space.com, 24 Jul 2018.
Thanks Thanks for early alerts, Rob Cooper, Jerry Chancellor, Bill Smith, John Minervini, Richard Hoover, Walter Klyce and Robert Sweeney.
Life on Mars! has links about water there, but the lasting underground lake is new.

17 Jul 2018
In the 41 years since Viking, none of the many attempts to explain away the LR results nonbiologically has withstood scientific scrutiny, so no barrier remains to preclude the possibility of extant microbial life on Mars, or that the LR experiment detected it.
Comments on the June 7, 2018, NASA News Release and Papers by Gilbert V. Levin and Patricia Ann Straat, Astrobiology, 16 Jul 2018. Data from the Curiosity rover..., about NASA's announcement, 07 Jun 2018.

NASA May Have Discovered and Then Destroyed Organics on Mars in 1976 by Chelsea Gohd, Space.com, 11 Jul 2018. Thanks Thanks, Martin Langford. Life on Mars! has background and links about the Viking mission.

Nearby Alien Planet May Be Capable of Supporting Life by Mike Wall, Space.com, 11 Jul 2018.
Stellar and Planetary Characterization of the Ross 128 Exoplanetary System from APOGEE Spectra by Diogo Souto et al., The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 13 Jun 2018. Thanks Thanks, Stan Franklin. Life on Europa...? has related links.

09 Jul 2018 What'sNEW about HGT |
how the BovB element has appeared in species that are wide apart Widespread transfer of genes between species has radically changed the genomes of today's mammals, and been an important driver of evolution. This is the conclusion of bioinformaticians at the University of Adelaide who tracked two specific genes across 759 species of plants, animals and fungi. Professor David Adelson adds, Even though our recent work involved the analysis of genomes from over 750 species, we have only begun to scratch the surface of horizontal gene transfer.
Cross Species Transfer of Genes Has Driven Evolution, University of Adelaide (+Newswise), 06 Jul 2018; re:
Horizontal transfer of BovB and L1 retrotransposons in eukaryotes by Atma M. Ivancevic et al., Genome Biology, 09 Jul 2018.

This awareness has been slow to arrive, but the importance of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) in evolution is a longstanding prediction of cosmic ancestry.
Viruses and Other Gene Transfer Mechanisms has background and many supporting links.
Thanks Thanks, Google Alerts and Stan Franklin.

02 Jul 2018
The Growing Case for Life as a Cosmic Phenomenon is the subject of Chandra Wickramasinghe's forthcoming presentation at the 40th annual COSPAR (Committee on Space Research) Assembly in Pasadena, California.
WHERE: Ballroom F, Pasadena Convention Center, 300 E Green St, Pasadena, CA 91101, USA.
WHEN: 2:30-3:00 PM, Wednesday, 18 July 2018.
COSPAR conference website
Hoyle and Wickramasinghe's Analysis of Interstellar Dust has background.
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