Researchers have developed a computer model which takes into account hundreds of genes, chemical reactions, and compounds required for the survival of Prochlorococcus, the most abundant photosynthetic microbe on the planet. They found that Prochlorococcus has made extensive alterations to its metabolism as a way to reduce its dependence on phosphorus, an element that is essential and often growth-limiting in the ocean.
Microbes are known to employ three basic strategies to compete for limiting elemental resources: cell quotas may be adjusted, stressed cells may synthesize molecules to make more efficient use of available resources, and cells may access alternatives or more costly sources of the nutrient.
In the case of phosphorus, a limiting resource in vast oceanic regions, the cosmopolitan Prochlorococcus thrives by adopting all three strategies and a fourth, previously unknown strategy.
“By generating the first detailed model of metabolism for an ecologically important marine microbe, we found that Prochlorococcus has evolved a way to reduce its dependence on phosphate by minimizing the number of enzymes involved in phosphate transformations, thus relieving intracellular demands” said John Casey, an oceanography doctoral candidate in the UHM School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology and lead author of the recently published study.
Prochlorococcus has an extremely minimal genome. If it were to lose the function of any one metabolic gene, its survival would be nearly a coin toss. To their surprise, Casey and co-authors discovered that the world’s most abundant microbe has performed, through a process called “genome streamlining” — the concerted loss of frivolous genes over evolutionary time — a comprehensive re-design of the core metabolic pathways in response to the persistent limitation of phosphorus. Paper. – John R. Casey, Adil Mardinoglu, Jens Nielsen, David M. Karl. Adaptive Evolution of Phosphorus Metabolism in Prochlorococcus. mSystems, 2016; 1 (6): e00065-16 DOI: 10.1128/mSystems.00065-16 (public access) More.
So the microbe has performed comprehensive re-design of core metabolic pathways? At this point, further commitment to Darwinism is intellectual suicide. But that’s fashionable now.
See also: Spider masquerades as leaf Obviously, Darwinian hit and miss methods would not produce the many elaborate mimics we see within the available time period. The need to pretend otherwise becomes a barrier to discovering the facts.
Natural genetic engineering? Natural popcorn? Or something more important?
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