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At Science: Maybe the transition from single cells to multicellular life wasn’t that hard?

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C. elegans stained to highlight nuclei/PLoS (CC)

From Elizabeth Pennisi at Science:

The evolutionary histories of some groups of organisms record repeated transitions from single-celled to multicellular forms, suggesting the hurdles could not have been so high. Genetic comparisons between simple multicellular organisms and their single-celled relatives have revealed that much of the molecular equipment needed for cells to band together and coordinate their activities may have been in place well before multicellularity evolved. And clever experiments have shown that in the test tube, single-celled life can evolve the beginnings of multicellularity in just a few hundred generations—an evolutionary instant.

Evolutionary biologists still debate what drove simple aggregates of cells to become more and more complex, leading to the wondrous diversity of life today. But embarking on that road no longer seems so daunting. “We are beginning to get a sense of how it might have occurred,” says Ben Kerr, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. “You take what seems to be a major step in evolution and make it a series of minor steps.” More.

So at the basic level, there is a program that adapts single cells to multicellularity? Yes, that certainly makes multicellularity easier and even swifter but it also make traditional Darwinian explanations sound ever more stretched.

See also: The minimal cell: How is research coming on a simple, self-replicating “artificial” cell? Researchers keep discovering new systems in cells. Minimizing or obviating what has not yet been discovered is going to be a challenge…

16 Replies to “At Science: Maybe the transition from single cells to multicellular life wasn’t that hard?

  1. 1
    PeterA says:

    “Maybe the transition from single cells to multicellular life wasn’t that hard?”

    Who said it was hard?

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Reductive Materialists, i.e. Darwinists, have no idea how a single cell might achieve its basic form,,,

    It is safe to say nobody really knows how an organism achieves its basic form. In the following article, Michael Denton remarks that,’to date the form of no individual cell has been shown to be specified in detail in a genomic blueprint.’

    The Types: A Persistent Structuralist Challenge to Darwinian Pan-Selectionism – Michael J. Denton – 2013
    Excerpt: Cell form ,,,Karsenti comments that despite the attraction of the (genetic) blueprint model there are no “simple linear chains of causal events that link genes to phenotypes” [77: p. 255]. And wherever there is no simple linear causal chain linking genes with phenotypes,,,—at any level in the organic hierarchy, from cells to body plans—the resulting form is bound to be to a degree epigenetic and emergent, and cannot be inferred from even the most exhaustive analysis of the genes.,,,
    To this author’s knowledge, to date the form of no individual cell has been shown to be specified in detail in a genomic blueprint. As mentioned above, between genes and mature cell form there is a complex hierarchy of self-organization and emergent phenomena, rendering cell form profoundly epigenetic.
    http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/.....O-C.2013.3

    And in the following article entitled ‘how do rod-like bacteria control their geometry?’, in the concluding paragraph, the authors conceded that, ‘We are still far from unravelling the fundamental “engineering” challenges that biology has to overcome in shaping single cells as well as multi-cellular tissues.,,,’

    Getting into shape: how do rod-like bacteria control their geometry? – March 31, 2014
    Excerpt from concluding paragraph: We are still far from unravelling the fundamental “engineering” challenges that biology has to overcome in shaping single cells as well as multi-cellular tissues.,,,
    https://arxiv.org/pdf/1404.0015.pdf

    And in the following study, the researchers fully expected to confirm a widely-held belief, backed by strong theoretical predictions,, that (the) shape and motility (of bacteria) had co-evolved. (Yet, the researchers remarked,) to our great surprise we didn’t find any association between the two traits.”

    Reshaping our ideas of bacterial evolution – November 22, 2016
    Excerpt: “We fully expected to confirm a widely-held belief, backed by strong theoretical predictions, that rod-shaped cells would move more effectively than coccoid (spherical) cells, and that shape and motility had co-evolved. We used a number of approaches to confirm our findings, and to our great surprise we didn’t find any association between the two traits.”
    https://phys.org/news/2016-11-reshaping-ideas-bacterial-evolution.html

    In short, molecular biologists don’t even understand how a single cell might achieve its basic form, much less do they understand how a multicellular organism might achieve its basic form.

    This failure of Darwinian evolution, particularly the failure of the reductive materialism on which Darwinian evolution is based, to be able to explain the basic form of any particular organism occurs at a very low level. Much lower than DNA itself.
    In the following article entitled ‘Quantum physics problem proved unsolvable’, which studied the derivation of macroscopic properties from a complete microscopic description, the researchers remark that even a perfect and complete description of the microscopic properties of a material is not enough to predict its macroscopic behaviour.,,, The researchers further commented that their findings challenge the reductionists’ point of view, as the insurmountable difficulty lies precisely in the derivation of macroscopic properties from a microscopic description.”

    Quantum physics problem proved unsolvable: Gödel and Turing enter quantum physics – December 9, 2015
    Excerpt: A mathematical problem underlying fundamental questions in particle and quantum physics is provably unsolvable,,,
    It is the first major problem in physics for which such a fundamental limitation could be proven. The findings are important because they show that even a perfect and complete description of the microscopic properties of a material is not enough to predict its macroscopic behaviour.,,,
    “We knew about the possibility of problems that are undecidable in principle since the works of Turing and Gödel in the 1930s,” added Co-author Professor Michael Wolf from Technical University of Munich. “So far, however, this only concerned the very abstract corners of theoretical computer science and mathematical logic. No one had seriously contemplated this as a possibility right in the heart of theoretical physics before. But our results change this picture. From a more philosophical perspective, they also challenge the reductionists’ point of view, as the insurmountable difficulty lies precisely in the derivation of macroscopic properties from a microscopic description.”
    http://phys.org/news/2015-12-q.....godel.html

    Darwinists hold that the basic form of an organism is achieved by mutations to DNA.

    Yet, as Jonathan Wells states in the following article, Studies using saturation mutagenesis in the embryos of fruit flies, roundworms, zebrafish and mice also provide evidence against the idea that DNA specifies the basic form of an organism. Biologists can mutate (and indeed have mutated) a fruit fly embryo in every possible way, and they have invariably observed only three possible outcomes: a normal fruit fly, a defective fruit fly, or a dead fruit fly.

    Jonathan Wells: Far from being all-powerful, DNA does not wholly determine biological form – March 31, 2014
    Excerpt: Studies using saturation mutagenesis in the embryos of fruit flies, roundworms, zebrafish and mice also provide evidence against the idea that DNA specifies the basic form of an organism. Biologists can mutate (and indeed have mutated) a fruit fly embryo in every possible way, and they have invariably observed only three possible outcomes: a normal fruit fly, a defective fruit fly, or a dead fruit fly.
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/jonathan-wells-far-from-being-all-powerful-dna-does-not-wholly-determine-biological-form/

    Moreover, to further drive the point home that the sequences in DNA cannot explain how any particular kind of organism achieves its basic form, in the following article Dr. Jonathan Wells states, “I now know as an embryologist,,,Tissues and cells, as they differentiate, modify their DNA to suit their needs. It’s the organism controlling the DNA, not the DNA controlling the organism.”

    Ask an Embryologist: Genomic Mosaicism – Jonathan Wells – February 23, 2015
    Excerpt: humans have a “few thousand” different cell types. Here is my simple question: Does the DNA sequence in one cell type differ from the sequence in another cell type in the same person?,,,
    The simple answer is: We now know that there is considerable variation in DNA sequences among tissues, and even among cells in the same tissue. It’s called genomic mosaicism.
    In the early days of developmental genetics, some people thought that parts of the embryo became different from each other because they acquired different pieces of the DNA from the fertilized egg. That theory was abandoned,,,
    ,,,(then) “genomic equivalence” — the idea that all the cells of an organism (with a few exceptions, such as cells of the immune system) contain the same DNA — became the accepted view.
    I taught genomic equivalence for many years. A few years ago, however, everything changed. With the development of more sophisticated techniques and the sampling of more tissues and cells, it became clear that genetic mosaicism is common.
    I now know as an embryologist,,,Tissues and cells, as they differentiate, modify their DNA to suit their needs. It’s the organism controlling the DNA, not the DNA controlling the organism.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....93851.html

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    James Shapiro weighs in here and states, ‘Research dating back to the 1930s has shown that genetic change is the result of cell-mediated processes, not simply accidents or damage to the DNA. This cell-active view of genome change applies to all scales of DNA sequence variation, from point mutations to large-scale genome rearrangements and whole genome duplications (WGDs).’

    How life changes itself: the Read-Write (RW) genome. – 2013
    Excerpt: Research dating back to the 1930s has shown that genetic change is the result of cell-mediated processes, not simply accidents or damage to the DNA. This cell-active view of genome change applies to all scales of DNA sequence variation, from point mutations to large-scale genome rearrangements and whole genome duplications (WGDs). This conceptual change to active cell inscriptions controlling RW genome functions has profound implications for all areas of the life sciences.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23876611

    And here is a particularly crystal clear example of the ‘organism controlling the DNA, and not the DNA controlling the organism’, as is presupposed in Darwinian thinking. Specifically, a bacterium, ‘after shattering of its 3.2 Mb genome into 20–30 kb pieces,,, miraculously reassembles its genome such that only 3 hr later fully reconstituted nonrearranged chromosomes are present, and the cells carry on, alive as normal.,,,’

    Extreme Genome Repair – 2009
    Excerpt: If its naming had followed, rather than preceded, molecular analyses of its DNA, the extremophile bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans might have been called Lazarus. After shattering of its 3.2 Mb genome into 20–30 kb pieces by desiccation or a high dose of ionizing radiation, D. radiodurans miraculously reassembles its genome such that only 3 hr later fully reconstituted nonrearranged chromosomes are present, and the cells carry on, alive as normal.,,,
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm.....MC3319128/

    Moreover, in the following study, researchers implanted human embryonic neuronal cells into a mouse embryo.,,, Yet, the human neurons, despite having human DNA, had a mouse morphology. If DNA really ruled morphology, we would have expected a human morphology.

    If DNA really rules (morphology), why did THIS happen? – April 2014
    Excerpt: Researchers implanted human embryonic neuronal cells into a mouse embryo. Mouse and human neurons have distinct morphologies (shapes). Because the human neurons feature human DNA, they should be easy to identify.
    Which raises a question: Would the human neurons implanted in developing mouse brain have a mouse or a human morphology?
    Well, the answer is, the human neurons had a mouse morphology. They could be distinguished from the mouse ones only by their human genetic markers.
    If DNA really ruled, we would expect a human morphology.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....is-happen/

    The following article notes that ‘a brief time-lapse video can teach more about embryonic development than any amount of reading. And further notes that it is hard not to be impressed how a repeatable form reliably emerges despite considerable variation in both genes and environment.’

    Criticality in morphogenesis – September 17, 2013
    Excerpt: In many regards, a brief time-lapse video can teach more about embryonic development than any amount of reading. It is hard not to be impressed how a repeatable form reliably emerges despite considerable variation in both genes and environment. While it had been hoped that concepts borrowed from statistical mechanics or the ideas of self-organized criticality could help to create some kind of physics-based theory of development, much of what has been done lies only at the level of metaphor. In a paper just released to ArXiv, William Bialek and his colleagues from Princeton University, have taken their search for the signature of criticality in a more specific direction. They looked at a particular set of transcription factors in Drosophila embryos which control spatiotemporal development. By analyzing fluctuations in the expression levels of these so-called gap genes, they found evidence for critical (fine) tuning in this particular network.
    http://phys.org/news/2013-09-c.....nesis.html

    Many more evidences falsifying the belief that reductive materialistic, i.e. Darwinian, explanations can explain how any particular organism might achieve its basic form are gone over in the following video:

    Darwinism vs Biological Form – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyNzNPgjM4w

    In short, since Darwinian explanations cannot even explain how a single cell might achieve its basic form, much less explain how a multicellular creature might achieve its basic form, then Darwinian speculations as to how a single cell creature might transform into a multicellular creature are based on pure imagination and have no real experimental basis in reality.

    Verse:

    2 Corinthians 10:5
    Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

  4. 4
    aarceng says:

    It’s not hard if it never actually happened.

  5. 5
    asauber says:

    “Maybe the transition from single cells to multicellular life wasn’t that hard?”

    Who said it was hard?

    And hard for who?

    Andrew

  6. 6
    polistra says:

    “may have been in place well before ”

    I wonder how many times we’ll have to hear this phrase before it stops being an inexplicable SURPRISE to the researchers? My guess is several billion.

    Better question: How did the species Scientistus academicus evolve without inductive reasoning, without an ability to draw conclusions from facts?

  7. 7
    asauber says:

    what drove simple aggregates of cells to become more and more complex

    Why does a drive for change exist at all, if it even does exist?

    Emergent property of The Universe?

    How much are these bozos getting paid?

    Andrew

  8. 8
    john_a_designer says:

    Genetic comparisons between simple multicellular organisms and their single-celled relatives have revealed that much of the molecular equipment needed for cells to band together and coordinate their activities may have been in place well before multicellularity evolved.

    This suggests pre-planning, preadaptation or some kind of genetic pre-programming. In other words, a guided, directed, teleological form of evolution. That’s not exactly what Darwin had in mind.

    You can’t salvage Darwinian evolution by arbitrarily smuggling in teleology where ever and whenever you need it. “Pre-adaptation” is evidence of intelligent design.

  9. 9
    PeterA says:

    aarceng,

    That’s correct.

  10. 10
    PeterA says:

    asauber,

    Exactly. Good question.

  11. 11
    PeterA says:

    polistra:

    “How did the species Scientistus academicus evolve without inductive reasoning, without an ability to draw conclusions from facts?”

    In the case of the modern synthesis Darwinist species, did you mean “devolve” ?

    Their ancestors Copernicus and Kepler possessed those important attributes their descendants miss now.

    How did that tremendous loss happen?

  12. 12
    PeterA says:

    john_a_designer,

    What is “the molecular equipment needed for cells to band together and coordinate their activities“?

    What does that include?

    How did they get that?

  13. 13
    john_a_designer says:

    PeterA,

    Choanoflagellates are protozoa which for some reason have signaling proteins that are necessary in higher multicellular animals including human beings.

    Choanoflagellates, or at least their ancestors, have long been suspected as being the bridge between microorganisms with only one cell and metazoan, or multi-cellular organisms…

    By analyzing the recently-sequenced choanoflagellate genome, the researchers discovered another similarity between choanoflagellates and most metazoans–their genetic code caries the markers of three types of molecules that cells use to achieve phospho-tyrosine signaling proteins.
    Animals depend on tyrosine phosphorylation to conduct a number of important communications between their cells, including immune system responses, hormone system stimulation and other crucial functions. These phospho-tyrosine signaling pathways utilize a three-part system of molecular components to make these communications possible.

    Tyrosine kinases (TyrK) ‘write’ messages between cells by adding phospho-tyrosine modifications, protein tyrosine phosphatases (PTP) are molecules that modify or ‘erase’ these modifications, and Src Homolgy 2 (SH2) molecules ‘read’ these modifications so the recipient cell gets the message.

    Without these three molecules to help our cells ‘write,’ ‘read’ and ‘erase’ chemical messages between them, our bodies would never be able to conduct the complex tasks needed to survive such as reproduction, digesting food or even breathing.

    Other genome analysis showed that some microorganisms contain some of these molecules in small levels, but never all three. This makes sense considering these organisms don’t need the tools to communicate between cells since they are made up of only one cell. What makes choanoflagellates unique, however, is that they have all three of these molecules. What’s more, they have relatively large quantities of them in amounts commonly seen in larger metazoan organisms.

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080701165050.htm

    The point I was trying to make above is: what is the Darwinian explanation for a single celled organism evolving a function that they do not need? From an ID perspective, on the other hand, this looks like a case of pre-planning or pre-adaptation. NS + RV is non-teleological it cannot anticipate or look ahead. Darwinism has to rely on lucky accidents that somehow happened millions of years in the past. How do you prove that these lucky accidents (and there has to be a long series of them) ever occurred?

    Several ID’ists, like Behe and Denton, accept common descent, which means they see design “front loaded” into evolution. Preadaptation would fit nicely into that sort of paradigm.

  14. 14
    PeterA says:

    john_a_designer,

    Interesting explanation. Thanks.

  15. 15
    Axel says:

    asauber and Peter A, I find it difficult, to say the least, to argue with A/Mats, in a non-ironical manner, in view of their apparent ignorance of the primacy of first principles, which, surely, also by definition, are seminal.

    a) How can anyone – I believe infants have more sense – not see that nothing could not produce anything, never mind, everything ;

    b) How can anyone believe that complex designs in nature (than which there are not, nor surely could be, any designs as complex, made by man – even given the raw materials) came about and indeed grow and develop by random chance !

  16. 16
    anthropic says:

    15 Axel
    “a) How can anyone – I believe infants have more sense – not see that nothing could not produce anything, never mind, everything ;”

    So nothing doing?

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