What'sNEW Jan - Mar 2022
The research was painstaking and thorough, but let's be realistic. It began with biological RNA replicase and long-enough, properly-sequenced strands of RNA. Even with only biological RNA, this beginning is extremely unlikely, as shown in a strictly mathematical analysis two years ago. Of course, any natural "prebiotic soup" would contain ruinous other ingredients. And all of this ignores the software issue: Where does genetic programming come from?
The RNA World and its variants seek to explain a phenomenon that has never been observed. What we do observe is that life always comes from life. Origin-of-Life research looks like medieval alchemy to me."Evolutionary transition from a single RNA replicator to a multiple replicator network" by R.Mizuuchi, T. Furubayashi, and N. Ichihashi, doi:10.1038/s41467-022-29113-x, Nature Communications, 18 Mar 2022.
"New Insight Into Possible Origins of Life: For the First Time Researchers Create an RNA Molecule That Replicates", SciTech Daily, 19 Mar 2022.
Thanks, Stan Franklin.
21 Apr 2020: An astronomer at The University of Tokyo calculates the unlikelihood.
Alchemy? Origin-of-Life research is not sceptical enough.
The RNA World and Other Origin-of-Life Theories has more.
"Oxidative metabolisms catalyzed Earth's oxygenation" by H. Shang, D.H. Rothman, and G.P. Fournier, doi:10.1038/s41467-022-28996-0, Nature, 14 Mar 2022.
Our analyses show that one major group of [marine oxidative metabolising bacteria] likely acquired [the needed enzyme] around the time of the GOE via a horizontal gene transfer event....
Gaia has our introduction to this philosophy of natural environmental management.
...the theory of cometary panspermia continues, after 35 years of rigorous debate, to provide a powerful unifying theory for a collection of otherwise unconnected and disparate scientific data from a range of disciplines.
"Evidence of Panspermia: From Astronomy to Meteorites," by Jamie Hamilton Wallis [PDF], PhD thesis, Cardiff University, 2014.
C. Thomas Caskey (1938–2022) demonstrated the universality of life's code, J Witkowski, Nature, 11 Mar 2022.
Diatoms in Carbonaceous Meteorites, 14-min. video, 2021.
Collected articles includes ...Atlas of Microfossils by Hoover et al.
11 Jan 2013: our first notice about Polonnaruwa, and updates.
The bacterial toxin colibactin triggers prophage induction, by Justin E. Silpe et al., Nature, 23 Feb 2022.
Bacteria Set Off Viral "Bombs" Inside Neighbors, by Natalia Mesa, The Scientist, 07 Mar 2022.
Viruses... has our primer about the lytic and lysogenic cycles in viruses.
Diverse events have transferred genes for edible seaweed digestion from marine to human gut bacteria, by Jianchao Ma, Shuanghua Wang et al., doi:10.1016/j.chom.2022.02.001, Molecular Plant, 01 Mar 2022. ...our data point to a far greater scope of historical HGT than we currently realize.
Genes stolen from marine organisms may help us digest seaweed, by Elizabeth Pennisi, Science, 01 Mar 2022.
Thanks, Imma Perfetto, Cosmos Magazine, 02 Mar.
Viruses and Other Gene Transfer Mechanisms links to thousands of examples of HGT.
Bacterial N4-methylcytosine as an epigenetic mark in eukaryotic DNA, by Fernando Rodriguez, Irina A. Yushenova et al., doi:10.1038/s41467-022-28471-w, Nature Communications, 28 Feb 2022.
Our work demonstrates how a horizontally transferred gene can become part of a complex regulatory system maintained by selection over tens of millions of years of evolution.
Essential metabolism for a minimal cell, by Marian Breuer et al., eLife, 18 Jan 2022.
Most Complete Simulation of a Cell Probes Life's Hidden Rules, by Yasemin Saplakoglu, Quanta Magazine, 24 Feb 2022.
What Is Life? The simplest form of life is not simple.
Adapting with a Little Help from Jumping Genes by Christie Wilcox, The Scientist, 17 Jan 2022.
Viruses and Other Gene Transfer Mechanisms has a primer and updates about HGT.
Huntsville Mineral and Gem Society features Richard B. Hoover, 22 Feb 2022.
Collected articles by Richard Hoover
2.4-Å structure of the double-ring Gemmatimonas phototrophica photosystem, by Pu Qian et al., Science Advances, 16 Feb 2022.
Viruses and Other Gene Transfer Mechanisms has more about HGT in all domains.
Archaeal origins of gamete fusion, by David Moi et al., doi:10.1101/2021.10.13.464100, bioRxiv, 13 Oct 2021.
Metazoan Genes Older Than Metazoa? and Genes Older Than Earth? have more.
Circumpolar ocean stability on Mars 3 Gy ago, by Frédéric Schmidt et al., PNAS, 25 Jan 2022.
Mars May Have Been Habitable Longer Than Thought, by Beth Johnson, SETI, 15 Feb 2022.
Sea Lilies on Ancient Mars? Why not?! Life on Mars! has more.
Giant sponge grounds of Central Arctic seamounts are associated with extinct seep life, by T. M. Morganti et al., doi:10.1038/s41467-022-28129-7, Nature Communications, 08 Feb 2022.
Massive Sponge Gardens Discovered on the Peaks of Extinct Underwater Volcanoes in the Arctic Deep Sea, by Alfred Wegener Institute, SciTechDaily, 08 Feb 2022. Thanks, Ted Steele.
Life on Europa, Other Moons, Other Planets? has related links.
Life on Mars! has lots about water or oceans there.
Of course point mutations in genes are ongoing, and microevolution also occurs. In fact, the rate of point mutations can be increased by various stresses; "adaptive mutation" has been witnessed for decades. And with "directed mutation," the nucleotide substitutions can even be concentrated in specific locations. How this is controlled is not clear.
Meanwhile, remember, 98.5% of the human genome is "non-coding," not used to make proteins or rRNA or tRNA. Some of this larger fraction is regulatory, controlling the activity of other genes with cascading logic. If the coding genes are present, regulatory genes may turn them off or on to complete a macroevolutionary step. And the regulatory ones can themselves be deactivated or reactivated by point mutations.
Fifteen years ago, molecular biologists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, studied the mutational history of human genes. They began by asking which parts of the human genome shared with chimps had changed most rapidly. Indeed there are some obvious "human accelerated regions" (HARs). More than two hundred ... appear to have been very stable for an extended evolutionary period ...before being radically reworked during the last ∼5 million y of human evolution. Surprisingly, human regulatory genes were changing fastest of all.
Robust Software Management... (incomplete) mentions many phemonena unexplained by neo-darwinism.
13 Feb 2022: ...some "birth defects" might actually be the right choice on another planet?
Gaia and Life Before 3850 Mya? have background and updates.
Interstellar space biology via Project Starlight by Stephen Lantin et al., Acta Astronautica, Jan 2022.
Sending life to the stars by Sonia Fernandez, UCSB, +PhysOrg, 06 Jan 2022.
Thanks, Zach Baker.
Going Interstellar with a Laser-Powered Rocket by Paul Gilster, Centauri Dreams, 15 Feb 2022.
Prokaryotic evolution uses horizontal gene transfer (HGT) to acquire new genes, including defense cassettes traded by various MGEs. The transfers often bring only some of what's needed, plus some that's useless or worse. Pruning is required. A review from the Pasteur Institute has insights and questions.
Microbial defenses against mobile genetic elements and viruses: Who defends whom from what? by Eduardo P. C. Rocha and David Bikard, doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.3001514, PLoS Biol, 13 Jan 2022.
10 Mar 2021: New hub for HGT among prokaryotes, with links.
Viruses... has a primer and many examples of HGT.
Depleted carbon isotope compositions observed at Gale crater, Mars by Christopher H. House et al., PNAS, 25 Jan 2022.
Mars rover detects carbon signature that hints at past life source by Paul Voosen, Science, 17 Jan 2022.
Life on Mars! has news and updates since 1996.
"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, point mutations can allow microevolution 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.
Essential Genes Protected from Mutations by Dan Robitzski, The Scientist, 25 Jan 2022.
How is it Possible? includes early mention of adaptive and directed mutation with updates.
Macroevolutionary Progress... and Does Microevolution Explain... have related discussion.
30 Jan 2022: Directed mutation in human regulatory genes!
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,
05 Jan 2022: about the recent journal article.
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.
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, Google Alerts.
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 releases methane that warms the planet to melt more permafrost (also see 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 for the book, Genevieve Christy.
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.