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Can we pinpoint the origin of oxygen photosynthesis?

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cyanobacterium image/CalTech Fischer Lab

From ScienceDaily:

The ability to generate oxygen through photosynthesis — that helpful service performed by plants and algae, making life possible for humans and animals on Earth — evolved just once, roughly 2.3 billion years ago, in certain types of cyanobacteria. This planet-changing biological invention has never been duplicated, as far as anyone can tell. Instead, according to endosymbiotic theory, all the “green” oxygen-producing organisms (plants and algae) simply subsumed cyanobacteria as organelles in their cells at some point during their evolution.

Endosymbiotic theory (life forms acquire useful units the way corporations acquire businesses) is a favourite in the coffee room around here but it is not up there with gravity. Still, do say on:

Fischer and his colleagues found that a single branch of cyanobacteria — dubbed Oxyphobacteria — were likely the first and only group to evolve oxygenic photosynthesis. Their closest relatives, Melainabacteria, live in the guts of animals (including humans) among other environments, and do not produce oxygen. And while one might suggest that Melainabacteria simply lost the ability to produce oxygen over time, the next most closely related cyanobacteria after those, described in the paper as Sericytochromatia, also do not engage in oxygenic photosynthesis.

“This nails down that Oxyphobacteria were really the only ones to ever invent this globe-shaping chemical process,” Fischer says.

We don’t really know that. And devolution (organism just somehow loses trait, survives anyway) is common.

The 41 new species fall into both Melainabacteria and Sericytochromatia, the latter of which had not been described before this paper. All names of these organisms are subject to change, as taxonomists catch up with the team’s discoveries. “We know they’re there, and we know their gene repertoire. Now we can start putting them into evolutionary trees, and begin efforts to isolate them and study their physiology and ecology,” says James Hemp, an Agouron Postdoctoral Scholar at Caltech when the research was conducted, and coauthor of the Science article. Paper. (paywall) – Rochelle M. Soo, James Hemp, Donovan H. Parks, Woodward W. Fischer, Philip Hugenholtz. On the origins of oxygenic photosynthesis and aerobic respiration in Cyanobacteria. Science, 2017; 355 (6332): 1436 DOI: 10.1126/science.aal3794 More.

This is great research as long as the researchers don’t demand, as evidence for achievement, that their study subject finds a place on the tree of life. Maybe back then it just didn’t quite work that way.

See also: Early Earth oxygen debate: Will the shooting stars please rise

Researchers: Small amount of oxygen 3.8 billion years ago

Did a low oxygen level delay complex life on Earth? (October 31, 2014)

Early Earth was indeed “extremely oxygen-poor compared to today” (January 16, 2015)

Small pre-Cambrian oxygen jump kickstarted complex life
(July 24, 2015)

Oxygen Does Not Equal Life – Implications for Abiogenesis? (September 15, 2015)

Researchers: Cyanobacteria responsible for Earth’s early oxygen
(November 28, 2015)

Animals didn’t “arise” from oxygenation, they created it, researchers say

Theory on how animals evolved challenged: Some need almost no oxygen

and

New study: Oxygenic photosynthesis goes back three billion years

If you want to get involved with the oxygen and evolution controversy, make some tea and check the following links as well: Researchers: Low oxygen levels delayed evolution two billion years

Earlier than thought: Oxygen deficit Oxygen on Earth and delayed evolution?

See also: Early Earth oxygen debate: Will the shooting stars please rise

Researchers: Small amount of oxygen 3.8 billion years ago

Did a low oxygen level delay complex life on Earth? (October 31, 2014)

Early Earth was indeed “extremely oxygen-poor compared to today” (January 16, 2015)

Small pre-Cambrian oxygen jump kickstarted complex life
(July 24, 2015)

Oxygen Does Not Equal Life – Implications for Abiogenesis? (September 15, 2015)

Researchers: Cyanobacteria responsible for Earth’s early oxygen
(November 28, 2015)

Animals didn’t “arise” from oxygenation, they created it, researchers say

Theory on how animals evolved challenged: Some need almost no oxygen

and

New study: Oxygenic photosynthesis goes back three billion years

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Comments
Why the biosynthesis pathway of Chlorophyll must be intelligently designed http://reasonandscience.heavenforum.org/t1546-why-the-biosynthesis-pathway-of-chlorophyll-must-be-intelligently-designed Biological cell factories and molecular machines find often their equivalents in human made artifacts. Chlorophyll pigment molecules are essential in photosynthesis, allowing plants and other organisms to absorb solar energy from light. Chlorophylls are vital for photosynthesis, a process to convert light energy into chemical energy that can later be released to fuel the organisms' activities (energy transformation). Human made solar pannels exercise the same function as chlorophyll. A solar power system is designed to supply usable solar power, using solar pannels in the first step to capture solar energy. We can draw interesting parallels of human made solar pannels and power systems , to its equivalent in nature, chlorophylls and photosynthesis, and point out, why they provide a excellent illustration of intelligent design. In order to gain electricity through solar power, the installation of a solar power system is required. It consists of an arrangement of several components, including solar panels , a solar inverter, cabling, solar tracking system, and an integrated battery solution to store the energy produced. If any of the mentioned components are missing , solar energy cannot be gained and stored. The final goal cannot be achieved. Each of the components are essential, and need to be interconnected correctly. One of the indispensible components are solar pannels. The make of solar pannels requires complex factories and machines The basic component of solar pannels, pure silicon, is not pure in its natural state. It must be brought to the manufacturing site, the solar pannel factory, cleaned, and prepared for the further steps. The same happens in cells, where raw material must be imported in complex mechanisms, through gates in the cell membrane. The manufacturing process goes from Purification of silicon, Making single crystal silicon , silicon wafers, doping, placing electrical contacts, anti-reflective coating, and finally encapsulating the cell. Finally, the pannel goes through a quality control process, and implantation. Thats a eight step production process, which must go all the way through; each step is essential, and requires also a several complex machines, which are specifically designed with specific processing and manufacturing goals. Its evident that the whole process requires the invention and implementation by intelligence. That is, engineers, which first make a scientific research, and based on the findings and inventions, experience and collected data, elaborate the relevant blueprints of the whole production process of each single machine, interconnections, and conceptualization as how the functional whole will provide the desired outcome. Functional parts are only meaningful within a whole, in other words it is the whole that gives meaning to its parts. The information is based on a language system wich must be pre-established. To define a specific subpart of a machine that requires a specific shape, size, material etc. the initial requirement is the language or code system, and the information based on that language to specify the part in question.In that way, the workers in the factory know how to decipher and understand the blueprint, its meaning, to produce the pannels. Intelligent agents think with an "end goal" in mind, allowing them to solve complex problems by taking many parts and arranging them in intricate patterns that perform a specific function. They need to be able to organize parts availability, synchronization, manufacturing and assembly coordination and interface compatibility of the single parts and subunits. The individual parts must precisely fit together and be correctly interconnected. The production process usually takes place in complex factories which also must be fully build, and ready for production . The raw materials are sourced , transported to the factory, selected and prepared for use at the right facility. What humans invented a few decades ago, was implemented much before through photosynthesis. Without chlorophyll, no light is absorbed, and photosynthesis cannot occur. Chlorophill pigments are essential for all advanced lifeforms on earth. They absorb photons, which are transmitted to the reaction center in photosystem II. In a similar process as solar pannel manufacturing, its equivalents, chlorophylls, must be made by a complex manufacturing process, similar as in a factory production line. Chlorophyll biosynthesis requires a complex pathway of 17 highly specific steps, like in a production line, and at each step, specific molecular machines advance in the make of chlorophyll , one step after the other, one enzyme handing over the subproduct to the next enzyme, by which in the eigth last steps, specific enzymes are used, uniquely in this pathway. That is as to say, specific machines are in place, to do their job only and exclusively for that specific manufacturing step and process. The pathway must go all the way through, otherwise chlorophyill is not produced. Any intermediate product has no biological function. The enzymes used in each single step use by themself highly coordinated and complex multistep manufacturing procedures to produce the intermediate products. For example Porphobilinogen deaminase enzyme (PBGD) is highly complex and specified in its structure, using co-factors for catalysis, and uses 4 highly coordinated , ordered, sequenced and complex steps, forming a geometrically correct tetrapyrrole ( a part of chlorophyll ) , and repeats the first two manufacturing steps in total 4 times. The evolutionary model is day by day…step by step…we are getting better and better all the time, adding to get more complexity. But that suggested manufacturing process raises serious questions in face of the challenge to produce photosynthesis. Without solar pannels, no energy could be capted, a solar power system would be non-functional. No chlorophyll, no caption of photons, no photosynthesis, no plant and no advanced life. Chlorophyll by its own has no function. So there would be no sense to produce it in a complex manufacturing process, unless all other parts for photosynthesis would be in place. Evolution has no forsight. So lets suppose, hundreds of millions of years would produce chlorophylls. SO WHAT ???! - by their own, there is no function for them, and if they dont have function, natural selection would not select them. Chlorophyll by its own, without the other proteins used in the photosynthesis pathway, would have no use. Its as if someone would produce solar pannels, without use. What good would it be to make a complex manufacturing machines to produce intermediate products for solar pannel production, without all the other machines and a functional factory fully setup and in place ? What good would there be for natural selection to select and produce enzymes , used in this complex manufacturing process, without all the other enzymes in place, and the whole process coordinated to get a useful end product ? What good would it be, if solar pannels would be produced, but all other parts would be missing to transform solar energy into useful energy ? What good would there be, if the chlorophyll pathway would go all the way through the 17th step ? Chlorophyll would be produced , BUT : What good for survival would there be for chlorophyll by its own, if not fully embedded in the photosyntesis process ? none. What good would there be for photosynthesis without chlorophyill in place, capturing light, and transmitting it to the photosystem ? none, since capturing light is essential for the whole process. Therefore, Chlorophyill biosynthesis is a interdependent , irreducible pathway. A minimal number of parts is required, and any shorter version would be non functional. The thing is, there's no driver for any of the pieces to emerge individually because single parts confer no advantage in and of themselves. The necessity for the parts of the system to be in place all at once is simply evidence of a planning organizing creative intelligence. Biological systems are functionally organised , integrated in a interdependent network, and complex, like human made machines and factories. The wiring of a electrical device equals to the biosynthesis pathway of chlorophyll. For the assembly of a biological system of multiple parts, not only the origin of the genome information to produce all proteins/enzymes with their respective subunits and assembly cofactors must be explained, but also parts availability ( The right materials must be transported to the building site. Often these materials in their raw form are unusable. Other complex machines come into play to transform the raw materials into usable form. All this requires specific information. ) synchronization, ( these parts must be read at hand at the building site ) manufacturing and assembly coordination ( which required the information of how to assemble each single part correctly, at the right place, at the right moment, and in the right position ) , and interface compatibility ( the parts must fit together correctly, like lock and key ) . Unless the origin of all these steps are properly explained, functional complexity as existing in biological systems has not been adressed adequatedely. How could the whole process have started " off the hooks " from zero without a planning intelligence ? Why would natural, unguided mechanisms produce a series of enzymes that only generate useless intermediates until all of the enzymes needed for the end product exist, are in place and do their job ? Furthermore , the process is highly toxic for cell membranes, and would destroy the surrounding molecules, if not duly protected right from the beginning. My conclusion is: The invention of Chlorophyll biosynthesis can only be explained by the acting agency of a intelligent mind. A intelligent designer is a capable agent, able of planning, with forsight of the end result, and the requirement of machines and pathways and manufacturing processes for a endgoal and useful product. Mindless, unguided, random, evolutionary processes are NOT. We are granted to infer, based on positive scientific evidence and knowledge ( no ignorance ! ) that intelligent design is the best explanation for the origin of the biosynthesis pathway of chlorophyll, and photosynthesis. More readings: Photosynthesis http://reasonandscience.heavenforum.org/t1555-photosynthesisOtangelo Grasso
April 12, 2017
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Photosynthesis http://reasonandscience.heavenforum.org/t1555-photosynthesis In photosynthesis, 26 protein complexes and enzymes are required to go through the light and light-independent reactions, a chemical process that transforms sunlight into chemical energy, to get glucose and fixed carbon to make glucose, its food of the organism as end products. A good part of the protein complexes are uniquely used in photosynthesis. The pathway must go all the way through, and all steps are required, otherwise glucose is not produced. Also, in the oxygen evolving complex, which splits water into electrons, protons, and oxygen, if the light-induced electron transfer reactions do not go all the five steps through, no oxygen, no protons and electrons are produced, and no advanced life would be possible on earth. So, photosynthesis is a interdependent system that could not have evolved, since all parts had to be in place right from the beginning. It contains many interdependent systems composed of parts that would be useless without the presence of all the other necessary parts. In these systems, nothing works until all the necessary components are present and working. So how could someone rationally say, the individual parts, proteins and enzymes, co-factors and assembly proteins not present in the final assemblage -- all happened by a series of natural events that we can call ad hoc mistakes "formed in one particular moment without ability to consider any application," to then somehow interlink in a meaningful way, to form electron transport chains, proton gradients to "feed" ATP synthase nano motors to produce ATP, and so on? Such independent structures would have not aided survival. Consider the light harvesting complex, and the electron transport chain, that did not exist at exactly the same moment--would they ever "get together" since they would neither have any correlation to each other nor help survival separately? Repair of PSII via turnover of the damaged protein subunits is a complex process involving highly regulated reversible phosphorylation of several PSII core subunits. If this mechanism would not work starting right from the beginning, various radicals and active oxygen species with harmful effects on photosystem II (PSII) would make it cease to function. So it seems that photosynthesis falsifies the theory of evolution, where every small step needs to provide a survival advantage. Fun and games with Otangelo Grasso about photosynthesis http://sandwalk.blogspot.com.br/2016/04/fun-and-games-with-otangelo-grasso.htmlOtangelo Grasso
April 12, 2017
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Interesting paper. Thanks.Dionisio
April 11, 2017
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