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How much evolution can symbiosis account for?


Could two early life forms unite and pool information (endosymbiosis)? Lynn Margulis championed the idea but recently some have raised doubts.

From Suzan Mazur at HuffPost:

Kurland and Harish lay out their case in the current Journal of Theoretical Biology in a paper titled, “Mitochondria are not captive bacteria.” In it they note that “97% of modern mitochondrial protein domains as well as their homologues in bacteria and archaea were present in the universal common ancestor. . . . and were distributed by vertical inheritance.”

But a big problem is that the subject has been surprisingly little researched. Mazur notes that endosymbiosis  champion Lynn Margulis told her,

A fine scientific literature on this theme (symbiosis) actually exists and grows every day but unfortunately it is scattered, poorly understood and neglected nearly entirely by the money-powerful, the publicity managers of science and the media. Worse, much of it is not written in English or well-indexed. This literature shows that symbiogenesis, interspecific fusions (hybridogenesis, gene transfers of various types, karyotypic fissioning, and other forms of acquisition of “foreign genomes” or epigenesis) are more important than the slow gradual accumulation of mutation or sexual merger.

The unpopularity of endosymbiosis as a concept feels odd because it would help us account for the current information conundrum better: Two organisms sharing information need not develop it separately.

Current Darwinians simply avoid the huge and growing information conundrum by appealing to faith in a mechanism, natural selection, that has never been demonstrated to account for it. And whining that it’s unfair that people don’t believe them, then threatening to Fix them. Sure, that’ll work.

Mazur reports that Templeton appears to be interested in this area:

… putting its money—-$353,113—-on further exploration of endosymbiosis, funding bioinformaticist and molecular biologist James McInerny’s eukaryogenesis project at the University of Manchester. More.

It is good to see Templeton making a possibly sound investment again.

The Paradigm Shifters: Overthrowing 'the Hegemony of the Culture of Darwin' Suzan Mazur is the author of Paradigm Shifters, an introduction to new approaches to evolution theory.

See also: Origin of life: Horizontal gene transfer “negligible” and endosymbiosis “wrong” as factors in earliest known life?


Steve Meyer speaks up for Lynn Margulis

It's an important question even without the genes and information. Chemistry is comfortable with the idea that NaCl is a distinct 'species' that shares no behaviors with Na and Cl. Living compounds should be treated the same way. Lichen works differently from algae. Human+GutBacteria is a different species from Human. Maybe this is the ONLY true origin of species? polistra

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