ญญWhat'sNEW in Cosmic Ancestry, beginning Jan 2022


20 Jan 2022
Mutation is not random. A new study by European and US biologists uses a common flowering weed to confirm this. Most point mutations are promptly fixed by DNA repair mechanisms, or are soon eliminated by natural selection, so the confirmation was not simple.
Mutation bias study
"Adaptive mutation" and even "directed mutation" have been noticed for decades, but this study goes deeper. It concludes that "epigenome-associated mutation bias" protects much of the genome from harmful mutations. This would allow only appropriate genetic programs to be explored and optimized for changing circumstances. Thus, microevolution can proceed while essential programs are safe.

Mutation bias reflects natural selection in Arabidopsis thaliana by Monroe, J.G., Srikant, T., Carbonell-Bejerano, P. et al., doi:10.1038/s41586-021-04269-6, Nature, 12 Jan 2022.
Important genomic regions mutate less often than do other regions by Jianzhi Zhang, Nature, 12 Jan 2022.
How is it Possible? includes our earliest mention of adaptive and directed mutation.
Macroevolutionary Progress Redefined... discusses the difference from microevolution.

18 Jan 2022
Fred Hoyle once told me, "All scientific truth goes through three stages:
1) That's the craziest thing we've ever heard.
2) We've heard all that before.
3) We knew it all along."
Other sources offer different versions of the stages of acceptance. Anyway, we seem to have reached stage 3 for horizontal gene transfer (HGT). A new online medical news service comments on a recent journal article, saying,

...scientists have always known the viral gene played a pivotal part in the evolution of viruses and eukaryotes alike. Also, viral genes possessed by man play key roles in growth and mental well-being.

...Genome Exchange between Viruses and Host Cells Is Key to Evolution, Gilmore Health News, 17 Jan 2022.
05 Jan 2022: about the recent journal article.
Viruses... has a primer and examples of HGT going way back.

17 Jan 2022
Trace gases, including hydrogen and carbon monoxide, could potentially support life on planetary bodies such as Mars and Titan, according to an internatinal trio of astrobiologists.
Out of Thin Air? Astrobiology and Atmospheric Chemotrophy by Don A. Cowan, Belinda C. Ferrari, and Christopher P. McKay, Astrobiology, 13 Jan 2022.
21 Aug 2020: Bacteria living on atmospheric trace gases are found on Earth.
Bacteria... has lots about the range of survival capabilities in microbial life.
19 Jan 2022: James Powers has comments.

15 Jan 2022
Bacteria in the very high atmosphere could escape to reach other worlds, according to physicists at the University of Edinburgh. This could also happen on other planets, they comment.
On the force of vertical winds in the upper atmosphere: consequences for small biological particles by A. Berera and D. J. Brener, the Royal Society Proceedings A, 12 Jan 2022.
Bacteria on Earth may have carried life to distant worlds... by Ryan Morrison, The Daily Mail, 12 Jan 2022.
Introduction... has history and updates about panspermia. Thanks Thanks, Google Alerts.

13 Jan 2022
If you think that climate change is over-hyped, Falter by Bill McKibben will set you straight. The trend to a warmer world is abundantly clear. Efforts to correct the course are not succeeding, and plans are inadequate. McKibben has plenty of data to back this up, and he tells the story bluntly. Falter - book cover

Fossil-fuel companies saw it coming, but instead emphasized reasons for doubt, much as tobacco companies reacted to lung cancer. Nowadays, our technological culture has dreams of miracle cures, perhaps coming from genetic engineering or artificial intelligence. But McKibben thinks that we already have the fixes we need, mainly solar panels and wind turbines. What's lacking is an emergency commitment, as in World War II. Along with its urgent call for action, this is a wide-ranging book with lots of surprising facts and insightful commentary.

From the perspective of cosmic ancestry, the ultimate danger of climate collapse is undeniable. Mars and Venus, our next-door neighbors, silently affirm this. Obviously, some feedback loops go the wrong way. Melting sea ice lets the dark sea absorb more solar heat. Melting permafrost warms the air to melt more permafrost (Yaffa, 2022.) To keep the planet habitable, longterm, will require tremendous, onging effort, compromise, sacrifice, and, still, some luck, too.

Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? by Bill McKibben, ISBN-10:1250256852, Henry Holt, 2019.
The Great Siberian Thaw by Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker, 10 Jan 2022.
Ocean heat reached a record high for the sixth straight year by Alison Bosman, earth.com, 11 Jan 2022.
Gaia has discussion and updates about feedback loops and climate stability.
Thanks Thanks for the book, Genevieve Christy.

05 Jan 2022 What'sNEW about HGT
Gene exchange between viruses and their hosts acts as a key facilitator of horizontal gene transfer and is hypothesized to be a major driver of evolutionary change. ...viral-derived eukaryotic genes implicate genetic exchange in the early evolution and diversification of eukaryotes....
Systematic evaluation of horizontal gene transfer between eukaryotes and viruses by Irwin, N.A.T., Pittis, A.A., Richards, T.A. et al., doi:10.1038/s41564-021-01026-3, Nature Microbiology, 31 Dec 2021.
New research shows gene exchange between viruses and hosts drives evolution, University of British Columbia +HorizonNews Medical +Science Daily, 04 Jan 2022.
Viruses... has a primer and many examples of HGT.
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