Darwinism Genetics

“and possibly a new trait …” Or maybe not?

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Here’s a story, “Leaky Genes Put Evolution on the Fast Track, Pitt and UW-Madison Researchers Find” (Eurekalert, Jun 15, 2011) where

The team traced the development of a unique feature in a species of fruit fly that began with low-level gene activity and became a distinct feature in a mere four mutations as an existing gene took on a new function, according to a report in PNAS 

Slight changes in DNA transcriptional enhancers can activate dormant genetic imperfections, causing “leakiness” or low level activity in developing tissue that is different from the genes’ typical location. A few more mutations can result in “a new function for an old gene.” One such gene found its way to becoming a permanent fixture in the ban of a species of fruit fly. However,

The Pitt-UW Madison work expands on research during the past 30 years demonstrating that new genes made from scratch are rare in animals, Rebeiz said. Instead, the diversity of living things is thought to stem from existing genes showing up in new locations. 

The authors say that the usual location for the gene of interest was established 400,000 years ago (“a blip in evolutionary terms”) and four mutations later caused it to migrate.

“It has been long appreciated that nature doesn’t make anything from scratch, but the mystery has remained of how genes that have been performing the same job for hundreds of millions of years are suddenly expressed in new places,” Rebeiz said. “Our work shows that even slight mutations in a transcriptional enhancer can cause leaky gene activity, which can initiate a short route to the development of new traits.” 

Just what the new trait is, is not revealed.

If the new trait were a business idea seeking a bank loan, some wonder how it would fare.

File under: Darwin’s Sure Thing

9 Replies to ““and possibly a new trait …” Or maybe not?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    quote of note from article:

    ‘On the other hand, ensuing genetic alterations in D. yakuba actually extinguished this new expression and restored that fly’s Neprilysin-1 to its original location.’

    ,,, for some reason not inherently stable at mutated state, thus reversion;

    i.e.

    Experimental Evolution in Fruit Flies (35 years of trying to force fruit flies to evolve in the laboratory fails, spectacularly) – October 2010
    Excerpt: “Despite decades of sustained selection in relatively small, sexually reproducing laboratory populations, selection did not lead to the fixation of newly arising unconditionally advantageous alleles.,,, “This research really upends the dominant paradigm about how species evolve,” said ecology and evolutionary biology professor Anthony Long, the primary investigator.
    http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.....ruit_flies

  2. 2
    GilDodgen says:

    Slight changes in DNA transcriptional enhancers can activate dormant genetic imperfections…

    Yawn. Thoroughly unsubstantiated speculation presented as fact,yet again.

    How do these clowns ever earn degrees in “science”? As far as I can see, all standards of scientific integrity have been permanently waived for Darwinists.

    The sad and pathetic implication of all this is that legitimate scientific investigation is undermined.

    With the above in mind, I conclude that Darwinism has been the greatest enemy of science in the last century.

  3. 3
    Ilion says:

    As far as I can see, all standards of scientific integrity have been permanently waived for Darwinists.

    And, humans being humans, soon enough *all* the little scientistes are demanding the right to pass off baseless speculations and Just-So Stories as ‘Science!‘ and as factual.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    This typo in the cited article bugs me:

    ‘The Pitt-UW Madison work expands on research during the past 30 years demonstrating that new genes made from scratch are rare in animals,

    here, let’s correct it:

    ‘The Pitt-UW Madison work expands on research during the past 30 years demonstrating that new genes made from scratch are NON-EXISTENT in animals,’

    There, now much better and truthful!

  5. 5
    DrREC says:

    The original post and comments seem negative without cause.

    The free abstract is here: http://www.pnas.org/content/ea.....8.abstract

    To what does the “Or maybe not?” in the original post refer?

    Original post:
    “Just what the new trait is, is not revealed.”

    From the paper: One gain was observed for the Neprilysin-1 (Nep1) gene, which has evolved a unique expression pattern in optic lobe neuroblasts of Drosophila santomea.

    “,,, for some reason not inherently stable at mutated state, thus reversion;”

    Only in one of the Drosophila species. The one that retained it has done so stably, for quite some time.

    “Slight changes in DNA transcriptional enhancers can activate dormant genetic imperfections…

    Yawn. Thoroughly unsubstantiated speculation presented as fact,yet again.

    How do these clowns ever earn degrees in “science”? ”

    I think ‘can’ here means does. The paper demonstrates that phrase. Let’s evaluate the data and not play semantic games. If I say I can speak Chinese, it means I do speak Chinese, not that I could speak Chinese if I studied real hard.

    Seems like you were looking for an excuse to launch into a rant.

    bornagain77, your correction is convenient. Sure, ignore the verified cases of de-novo genes (wait, the other day, weren’t you and/or Cornelius Hunter claiming explaining their origins was a huge problem for evolution)?

  6. 6
    Mung says:

    Sure, ignore the verified cases of de-novo genes

    Well, hard to say what you mean by a de-novo gene.

    But shouldn’t the genome be absolutely littered with such things?

    Or are you one of those who believe that pretty much all genes have been there from the beginning?

    So shouldn’t there be all kinds of evidence of de-novo genes?

    Shouldn’t genes themselves form a tree-like structure tracing back to a common ancestral gene?

    Do they?

    Or is that yet another Darwinian “prediction” that can’t be falsified?

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    DrREC; ‘Sure, ignore the verified cases of de-novo genes’

    Please feel free to present your ‘verified’ case of a de-novo gene (or protein) being generated by purely random material processes; Seeing that nature, due to the relentless grip of entropy, does not produce proteins or genes, this should be a fairly difficult task for you, not even taking into to consideration the extreme rarity of functional genes and proteins. But since I’m sure you want to hijack examples where the preexisting programming in the cell ‘calculated a response’ for a gene or protein, just so to support your atheistic worldview, then this could get tedious. But go ahead, what ‘smoke and mirrors’ example of a calculated response do you think best supports your case???

  8. 8
    DrREC says:

    bornagain77,

    I take it the problem is not the existence of new genes, but their interpretation.

    I see deletions, mutations, and recombination creating a new functional protein and say a de novo gene has arisen. That’s the science.

    I’d say ‘naturally’ but I can’t rule out the supernatural secretly guiding this process. This would be theistic evolution, I suppose. Fine by me as a personal belief on top of the science.

    Since you’ve already concluded, contra evidence “that nature, due to the relentless grip of entropy, does not produce proteins or genes,” you have to read something else in.

    So you present a design hypothesis. “where the preexisting programming in the cell ‘calculated a response.’ Have you detected this programming? What is it? How did it create a new gene by several different processes? Is the functional information before and after the calculated response the same? Why is the response not uniform, with such low rates of emergence of these ‘calculated responses?’ 
    members of

    By the way, a laughable contradiction here is ‘genetic entropy’ and your front-loading in the same breath. If it isn’t functional and selected for, genetic entropy would predict rapid decay, not a program that waits patiently to become part of a ‘calculated response’ at some later date.

  9. 9
    Mung says:

    By the way, a laughable contradiction here is ‘genetic entropy’ and your front-loading in the same breath.

    He does try hard 🙂

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