Question: If the last common ancestor of the bacterium had a flagellum, what do we really know about the evolution of the flagellum? Isn’t that a bit like finding a stone laptop in a Neanderthal cave? That said, it’s nice to see horizontal gene transfer getting proper recognition.
Researchers: Overall, we showed that LGT is a widespread phenomenon in grasses that has moved functional genes across the grass family into domesticated and wild species alike. Successful LGTs appear to increase with both opportunity and compatibility.
At Quanta: “Davis’ team estimated that at least 1.2% of the plant’s genes came from other species, particularly its hosts, past and present. That might not sound impressive, but this kind of horizontal gene transfer is considered exceptionally rare outside of bacteria. So even a single percent of genes arising this way raises eyebrows.” Researchers are still trying to figure out why the parasitic plant has such a huge genome. Commendably, they are not claiming it’s all junk.
We heard just recently about horizontal gene transfer between herring and smelt. Will we be hearing next about horizontal gene transfer involving mammals via airborne DNA? Don’t rule it out.
We don’t know that HGT is “extremely rare” in vertebrates. We know that it was unexpected so no one was looking for it. We also know that it is extremely inconvenient for a discipline that invested so heavily in natural selection acting on random mutations (Darwinism).
Marshall favors horizontal gene transfer as a key method of early development because ancestor–descendant evolution is a “very slow” (42:25) evolutionary process. HGT among multiple independent lineages, by contrast, allows a “vast exchange of information,” thus sharing innovations and leading to faster development. Okay. And in the midst of all that, Dawkins’s Selfish Gene got lost in a crowd somewhere and was never heard from again.
One senses that the reconstruction will be subject to considerable revision. It’s not entirely clear what “ancestry” means in a world of rampant horizontal gene transfer.
It’s not yet clear why there are fewer types of microbes in urban people’ guts or why they favor horizontal gene transfer more often. But note: At one time, the researchers would be trying to explain it all in terms of Darwinism. That alone shows how much has changed without people really noticing.
Trust our stalwart physics color commentator Rob Sheldon to draw the logical conclusion about horizontal gene transfer between plants and insects: If plants and insects can exchange genes (and who knows what else can?), what are we to make of dogmatic claims about universal common descent?
So what becomes of all the Darwinian casuistry around “fitness” and “costly fitness” if things can happen so simply as this? The article emphasizes the benefits of studying “evolution.” Indeed, but that can’t mean fronting Darwinism 101 any more.
Researchers: This union of two different genomes, called allopolyploidization, is very interesting in evolutionary terms, as it leads to the formation of new plant species and is widespread in many plant groups. Many important crops, such as bread and durum wheat, oats, cotton, canola, coffee, and tobacco have such combined genomes from at least two crossed species.
Evolution News and Science Today describes the idea as “little more than a hunch” but one worth pursuing. It involves endosymbiosis and horizontal gene transfer. Its a start towards a reasonable explanation and way better than classic Darwinism.
This little toolkit looks designed for horizontal gene transport (HGT), but there wasn’t anything similar to it for eukaryotes. Then came this article. And apparently humans (a rather sophisticated eukaryote) have circular DNA as well, it just was overlooked for 30 years.
Researchers: “It was previously thought that the only genes that could spread through a population were those that caused a benefit ‘right now’ (in the environment that the population is experiencing at that point in time).” That’s Darwinism. And Darwinism is becoming comprehensively out of date.
At New Scientist: “‘Yeast and bacteria have fundamentally different ways of turning DNA into protein, and this seemed like a really, really strange phenomenon,’ he says.” They ain’t seen nothing yet. If you subtract the “random mutation” from “natural selection,” what’s left of Darwinism? By the time the Raging Woke hammer down Darwin’s statue, chances are the New Scientist crowd will have forgotten who the old Brit toff even was. Shrug.