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At SciTech Daily: Extraterrestrial Life: Ancient Microbes May Help Us Find Alien Life Forms

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University of California Riverside reports:

Light-capturing proteins illuminate Earth of billions of years ago.

Scientists have reconstructed what life was like for some of Earth’s earliest organisms by using light-capturing proteins in living microbes. These endeavors could help us recognize signs of alien life on other planets, whose atmospheres may more closely resemble our early, pre-oxygen planet.

Crystal structure of rhodopsin: A G protein-coupled receptor (public domain).

The earliest living things on Earth, which included bacteria and single-celled organisms called archaea, inhabited a primarily oceanic planet without an ozone layer to protect them from the sun’s radiation. These microbes evolved rhodopsins, proteins with the ability to turn sunlight into energy, and used them to power cellular processes. 

“On early Earth, energy may have been very scarce. Bacteria and archaea figured out how to use the plentiful energy from the sun without the complex biomolecules required for photosynthesis,” said Edward Schwieterman, a University of California, Riverside astrobiologist and co-author of a study describing the research. 

Rhodopsins are related to rods and cones in human eyes that enable us to distinguish between light and dark and see colors. They are also widely distributed among modern organisms and environments such as saltern ponds, which present a rainbow of vibrant colors. 

Using a type of artificial intelligence called machine learning, the team of scientists analyzed rhodopsin protein sequences from all over the world and tracked how they evolved over time. Then, they created a type of family tree that allowed them to reconstruct rhodopsins from 2.5 to 4 billion years ago, and the conditions that they likely faced.

“Life as we know it is as much an expression of the conditions on our planet as it is of life itself. We resurrected ancient DNA sequences of one molecule, and it allowed us to link to the biology and environment of the past,” said University of Wisconsin-Madison astrobiologist and study lead Betul Kacar.

Since ancient Earth did not yet have the benefit of an ozone layer, the research team theorizes that billions-of-years-old microbes lived many meters down in the water column to shield themselves from intense UVB radiation at the surface.

Blue and green light best penetrates water, so it is likely that the earliest rhodopsins primarily absorbed these colors. “This could be the best combination of being shielded and still being able to absorb light for energy,” Schwieterman said.

After the Great Oxidation Event, more than 2 billion years ago, Earth’s atmosphere began to experience a rise in the amount of oxygen. With additional oxygen and ozone in the atmosphere, rhodopsins evolved to absorb additional colors of light.

Rhodopsins today are able to absorb colors of light that chlorophyll pigments in plants cannot. Though they represent completely unrelated and independent light capture mechanisms, they absorb complementary areas of the spectrum.

“This suggests co-evolution, in that one group of organisms is exploiting light not absorbed by the other,” Schwieterman said. “This could have been because rhodopsins developed first and screened out the green light, so chlorophylls later developed to absorb the rest. Or it could have happened the other way around.”

“Early Earth is an alien environment compared to our world today. Understanding how organisms here have changed with time and in different environments is going to teach us crucial things about how to search for and recognize life elsewhere,” Schwieterman said.

Full article at SciTech Daily.

The researchers calmly state: “These microbes evolved rhodopsins, proteins with the ability to turn sunlight into energy, and used them to power cellular processes.” How could unguided natural processes produce a complex, functional protein consisting of a specific sequence of 348 amino acids? The probabilistic resources of the entire universe render impossible the production of a single protein with only 150 amino acids in a specified sequence by chance. See Signature in the Cell, by Stephen Meyer.

3 Replies to “At SciTech Daily: Extraterrestrial Life: Ancient Microbes May Help Us Find Alien Life Forms

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    As to:

    “Using a type of artificial intelligence called machine learning, the team of scientists analyzed rhodopsin protein sequences from all over the world and tracked how they evolved over time. Then, they created a type of family tree that allowed them to reconstruct rhodopsins from 2.5 to 4 billion years ago, and the conditions that they likely faced.,,,
    Moving forward, the team is hoping to resurrect model rhodopsins in a laboratory using synthetic biology techniques.”

    So they have, as of yet, no actual empirical evidence that such a transition between similar proteins is possible. Just a fancy computer model that assumes evolution to be true.

    First off, and as Caspian pointed out, “The probabilistic resources of the entire universe render impossible the production of a single protein with only 150 amino acids in a specified sequence by chance.”

    Origin: Probability of a Single Protein Forming by Chance – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1_KEVaCyaA

    Mathematical Basis for Probability Calculations Used in (the film) Origin
    Excerpt: Putting the probabilities together means adding the exponents. The probability of getting a properly folded chain of one-handed amino acids, joined by peptide bonds, is one chance in 10^74+45+45, or one in 10^164 (Meyer, p. 212). This means that, on average, you would need to construct 10^164 chains of amino acids 150 units long to expect to find one that is useful.
    http://www.originthefilm.com/mathematics.php

    Secondly, Ann Gauger and Doug Axe have found that unguided Darwinian processes would need a trillion trillion years or more—to accomplish the seemingly subtle change in enzyme function that requires just a few mutations.

    When Theory and Experiment Collide – Douglas Axe – April 16th, 2011
    Excerpt: Based on our experimental observations and on calculations we made using a published population model [3], we estimated that Darwin’s mechanism would need a truly staggering amount of time—a trillion trillion years or more—to accomplish the seemingly subtle change in enzyme function that we studied.
    http://biologicinstitute.org/2.....t-collide/

    “Enzyme Families — Shared Evolutionary History or Shared Design?” – Ann Gauger – December 4, 2014
    Excerpt: If enzymes can’t be recruited to genuinely new functions by unguided means, no matter how similar they are, the evolutionary story is false.,,,
    Taken together, since we found no enzyme that was within one mutation of cooption, the total number of mutations needed is at least four: one for duplication, one for over-production, and two or more single base changes. The waiting time required to achieve four mutations is 10^15 years. That’s longer than the age of the universe. The real waiting time is likely to be much greater, since the two most likely candidate enzymes failed to be coopted by double mutations.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2014/12/a_new_paper_fro/

    “Shared Evolutionary History or Shared Design?” – Ann Gauger – January 1, 2015
    Excerpt: The waiting time required to achieve four mutations is 10^15 years. That’s longer than the age of the universe. The real waiting time is likely to be much greater, since the two most likely candidate enzymes failed to be coopted by double mutations.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....92291.html

    Biologist Douglas Axe on evolution’s (in)ability to produce new functions – video (3:00 minute mark)
    https://youtu.be/8ZiLsXO-dYo?list=PLR8eQzfCOiS3V0QvOJlbxfGqakTI6lhLN&t=180

    Needless to say, some might consider the lack of any empirical evidence that proteins can randomly originate, or randomly evolve once they have originated, to be a fairly serious flaw for any ‘scientific’ paper that hopes to explain the supposedly naturalistic origin and evolution of Rhodopsins.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Of further note, although they presupposed that these microbes could have evolved into one another, the actual empirical evidence paints a very different picture in which bacteria demonstrate an extreme lack of evolution.

    Static evolution: is pond scum the same now as billions of years ago?
    Excerpt: But what intrigues (paleo-biologist) J. William Schopf most is lack of change. Schopf was struck 30 years ago by the apparent similarities between some 1-billion-year-old fossils of blue-green bacteria and their modern microbial counterparts. “They surprisingly looked exactly like modern species,” Schopf recalls. Now, after comparing data from throughout the world, Schopf and others have concluded that modern pond scum differs little from the ancient blue-greens. “This similarity in morphology is widespread among fossils of [varying] times,” says Schopf. As evidence, he cites the 3,000 such fossils found;
    https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Static+evolution%3A+is+pond+scum+the+same+now+as+billions+of+years+ago%3F-a014909330

    AMBER: THE LOOKING GLASS INTO THE PAST:
    Excerpt: These (fossilized bacteria) cells are actually very similar to present day cyanobacteria. This is not only true for an isolated case but many living genera of cyanobacteria can be linked to fossil cyanobacteria. The detail noted in the fossils of this group gives indication of extreme conservation of morphology, more extreme than in other organisms.
    http://bcb705.blogspot.com/200.....st_23.html

    The Paradox of the “Ancient” (250 Million Year Old) Bacterium Which Contains “Modern” Protein-Coding Genes: Heather Maughan*, C. William Birky Jr., Wayne L. Nicholson, William D. Rosenzweig§ and Russell H. Vreeland ; – 2002
    “Almost without exception, bacteria isolated from ancient material have proven to closely resemble modern bacteria at both morphological and molecular levels.”
    http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/...../19/9/1637

    Scientists find signs of life in Australia dating back 3.48 billion years – Thu November 14, 2013
    Excerpt: “We conclude that the MISS in the Dresser Formation record a complex microbial ecosystem, hitherto unknown, and represent one of the most ancient signs of life on Earth.”… “this MISS displays the same associations that are known from modern as well as fossil” finds. The MISS also shows microbes that act like “modern cyanobacteria,”
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/13/.....ient-life/

    Geobiologist Noffke Reports Signs of Life that Are 3.48 Billion Years Old – 11/11/13
    Excerpt: the mats woven of tiny microbes we see today covering tidal flats were also present as life was beginning on Earth. The mats, which are colonies of cyanobacteria, can cause unusual textures and formations in the sand beneath them. Noffke has identified 17 main groups of such textures caused by present-day microbial mats, and has found corresponding structures in geological formations dating back through the ages.
    http://www.odu.edu/about/odu-p...../topstory1

    Of related interest, a large percentage of unique ORFan genes, which belong to only one bacteria group, are found in every genome of bacteria sequenced, and crush any hope Darwinists have of ever finding ‘realistic’ evolutionary relationships between these bacteria groups,

    ,,,”Typical bacterial species. The smallest part of the pie are the genes that all bacteria share. 8% roughly. This second and largest slice (of the pie, 64%) are the genes that are specialized to some particular environment. They call them character genes. By far the biggest number of genes are the ones that are unique. This big green ball here (on the right of the illustration). These are genes found only in one species or its near relatives. Those are the ORFans (i.e. Genes with no ancestry). They said, on the basis of our analysis the genetic diversity of bacteria is of infinite size.”
    Paul Nelson – quoted from 103:48 minute mark of the following video
    Whatever Happened To Darwin’s Tree Of Life? – Paul Nelson – video
    https://youtu.be/9UTrZX47e00?t=3820

    Estimating the size of the bacterial pan-genome
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19168257/

  3. 3
    relatd says:

    Pfft! Nothing – guesswork, imagination. And everything will show us everything. No. Definitely not.

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