horizontal gene transfer Intelligent Design

Could symbiosis with bacteria play a role in the widespread use of magnetic navigation in animals?

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In symbiosis (strictly speaking, endosymbiosis ), two or more different types of organisms start living together as a single organism, where natural functions are divided among them. From the Free Dictionary (linked): “a type of symbiosis in which one organism lives inside the other, the two typically behaving as a single organism. It is believed to be the means by which such organelles as mitochondria and chloroplasts arose within eukaryotic cells.”

Evolution News and Science Today describes the idea as “little more than a hunch” but one worth pursuing:

Homing pigeons return home from unfamiliar release points. Sea turtles and salmon cross oceans unerringly to feeding grounds and back home again through murky sea water. Butterflies cross thousands of miles to specific trees they have never seen before for overwintering. Even cows generally align north and south. One thing that unites these disparate creatures from different phyla and families: the ability to sense and align with the earth’s geomagnetic field. Where did they get this ability? How does it work? Hearing has ears; seeing has eyes, but this “sense without a receptor” has been a mystery for half a century. Now, some scientists think bacteria may have shared their technology with animals, but testing that possibility is a work in progress.

Evolution News, “Magnetic Navigation May Be a Gift from Bacteria” at Evolution News and Science Today:

They could all have been/be in contact with magnetotactic bacteria:

The magnetosomes, usually arranged in single file, are attracted to magnetic fields, including the earth’s magnetic field. They align with the field and feel the pull. The whole bacterium responds by aligning with the resultant magnetic moment and travels in that direction. The mere presence of magnetite inside a bacterium, however, does not guarantee a response. As with every other functional entity in life, bacteria have genes and proteins that construct these biominerals and arrange them in magnetosomes with tight controls. It’s not a simple process. The authors believe that unrelated MTB shared these genes, located on “Magnetosome Islands” (MAI), by horizontal gene transfer. Even so, the coupling of magnetic-sensitive organelles to cellular motion in the bacteria is not well understood.

Evolution News, “Magnetic Navigation May Be a Gift from Bacteria” at Evolution News and Science Today:

Paper under discussion (paywall)

Endosymbiosis and horizontal gene transfer are definitely not the whole story, it seems:

In Illustra’s documentary Living Waters, the exquisite navigation equipment of sea turtles was showcased. The turtles can determine both the strength and angle of a magnetic field line and move precisely at the angle needed to reach their feeding grounds without visual cues. When in the vicinity of a target, they can incorporate other cues, like smell and vision, to get there. Years or decades later they can remember how to get back, often arriving within meters of the beach where they were hatched. The feat implies the existence of far more than symbiosis with bacterial partners aligned with compass points. They must have the ability to build a magnetic map in their brains and store it in memory, then run the route forwards and backwards.

Evolution News, “Magnetic Navigation May Be a Gift from Bacteria” at Evolution News and Science Today:

But hey, it’s a start towards a reasonable explanation and way better than classic Darwinism.

6 Replies to “Could symbiosis with bacteria play a role in the widespread use of magnetic navigation in animals?

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Probably an unnecessary hypothesis. We know how the magnetic sense works in some animals. It follows the same basic pattern as the balance sense in everything from shrimp to humans. Balance uses little pebbles, made by the body, embedded in a gel with hair-cell neurons sensing the motion. The magnetic sense (where known) is generally similar. Magnetized iron particles pushing on some kind of pressure-sensitive neurons. The electromagnetic wave sense in mud-dwelling fish is also similar.

    Since this mechanism is widespread in many senses including magnetism, there’s no reason to assume symbiosis in the cases where we don’t yet see the mechanism. It’s possible that bacteria may be enlisted (or encysted like mitochondria) to MAKE the particles, but unlikely that the bacteria are doing the sensing.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    of semi related note,

    Einstein’s Compass
    This gift may have launched the genius of Albert Einstein
    Excerpt: When he was 5 years old and sick in bed, Hermann Einstein brought Albert a device that did stir his intellect. It was the first time he had seen a magnetic compass. He lay there shaking and twisting the odd contraption, certain he could fool it into pointing off in a new direction. But try as he might, the compass needle would always find its way back to pointing in the direction of magnetic north. “A wonder,” he thought. The invisible force that guided the compass needle was evidence to Albert that there was more to our world that meets the eye. There was “something behind things, something deeply hidden.”
    So began Albert Einstein’s journey down a road of exploration that he would follow the rest of his life. “I have no special gift,” he would say, “I am only passionately curious.”
    https://www.johnshepler.com/articles/einstein.html

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    As to Einstein’s childhood fascination about the toy magnet, i.e. that there must be, “something behind things, something deeply hidden”, from that childhood fascination about the toy magnet, the following article states that “It was a fascination that ultimately led him (Einstein) to challenge contemporary concepts of magnetic fields and to develop an entirely new formulation of gravitational fields.”

    The Einstein Papers: Childhood Showed a Gift for the Abstract
    By Walter Sullivan – March 27, 1972
    Another is one of the two objects that, Einstein said in later years, played a special inspirational role in his life. This was a geometry book that sent his mind racing off in new directions as a boy.
    The book, with his marginal scribbles, is in the filing cabinets at Princeton, but the other inspirational object —a compass given Einstein by his fa ther when he was 4 or 5—has vanished. The mysterious, all?pervading “field” of magnetic force that controlled the compass needle fascinated the little boy.
    It was a fascination that ultimately led him to challenge contemporary concepts of magnetic fields and to develop an entirely new formulation of gravitational fields.
    https://www.nytimes.com/1972/03/27/archives/the-einstein-papers-childhood-showed-a-gift-for-the-abstract-the.html

    Of related interest, Einstein was never able to unify his field equations of gravity,,,

    In the general theory of relativity the Einstein field equations (EFE; also known as Einstein’s equations) relate the geometry of spacetime to the distribution of matter within it.[1]…
    – per wikipedia

    ,,, Einstein was never able to unify his field equations of gravity with electromagnetism, i.e. the electromagnetic field, into a “unified field theory”

    Theory of everything
    After 1915, when Albert Einstein published the theory of gravity (general relativity), the search for a unified field theory combining gravity with electromagnetism began with a renewed interest. In Einstein’s day, the strong and the weak forces had not yet been discovered, yet, he found the potential existence of two other distinct forces -gravity and electromagnetism- far more alluring. This launched his thirty-year voyage in search of the so-called “unified field theory” that he hoped would show that these two forces are really manifestations of one grand underlying principle.,,,
    ,,, Albert Einstein and his collaborators. Einstein intensely searched for, but ultimately failed to find, a unifying theory.[19]:ch 17
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_everything#Early_20th_century

    In short, Einstein was never able to explain electromagnetism and therefore Einstein had failed to explain the “something behind things, something deeply hidden” that the young Einstein knew must exist from his childhood fascination with his toy magnet.

    As to the overall belief of Einstein of seeing everything as fields, and Einstein subsequently, for decades afterwards, unsuccessfully trying to find a “unified field theory”, a theory that would unify electromagnetism with gravity, John Wheeler, (a scientific giant in his own right), comments, in his life in physicst, that he himself moved from believing that “Everything is particles’ to then believing that “Everything is fields’ to finally and ultimately believing that “Everything is information’

    “I think of my lifetime in physics as divided into three periods. In the first period, extending from the beginning of my career until the early 1950’s, I was in the grip of the idea that Everything Is Particles. I was looking for ways to build all basic entities – neutrons, protons, mesons, and so on – out of the lightest, most fundamental particles, electrons, and photons.
    I call my second period Everything Is Fields. From the time I fell in love with general relativity and gravitation in 1952 until late in my career, I pursued the vision of a world made of fields, one in which the apparent particles are really manifestations of electric and magnetic fields, gravitational fields, and space-time itself.
    Now I am in the grip of a new vision, that Everything Is Information. The more I have pondered the mystery of the quantum and our strange ability to comprehend this world in which we live, the more I see possible fundamental roles for logic and information as the bedrock of physical theory.”
    – J. A. Wheeler, K. Ford, Geons, Black Hole, & Quantum Foam: A Life in Physics New York W.W. Norton & Co, 1998, pp 63-64.

    John Wheeler went on to state that,, “All things physical are information-theoretic in origin and this is a participatory universe… Observer-participancy gives rise to information.” Wheeler succinctly summarized this idea as ‘It from bit”.

    It from Bit: Pioneering Physicist John Archibald Wheeler on Information, the Nature of Reality, and Why We Live in a Participatory Universe
    “All things physical are information-theoretic in origin and this is a participatory universe… Observer-participancy gives rise to information.”
    BY MARIA POPOVA
    Excerpt: In his paper, Wheeler writes:
    “I, like other searchers, attempt formulation after formulation of the central issues and here present a wider overview, taking for working hypothesis the most effective one that has survived this winnowing: It from Bit. Otherwise put, every it — every particle, every field of force, even the spacetime continuum itself — derives its function, its meaning, its very existence entirely — even if in some contexts indirectly — from the apparatus-elicited answers to yes or no questions, binary choices, bits.
    It from Bit symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has at bottom — at a very deep bottom, in most instances — an immaterial source and explanation; that what we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes-no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and this is a participatory universe.”,,,
    ,,, he adds,,
    “No account of existence can ever hope to rate as fundamental which does not translate all of continuum physics into the language of bits. We will not feed time into any deep-reaching account of existence. We must derive time — and time only in the continuum idealization — out of it. Likewise with space.”
    ,,,, Returning to the loop upon which Bohm had puzzled a decade earlier, Wheeler writes:
    “Physics gives rise to observer-participancy; observer-participancy gives rise to information; and information gives rise to physics.”,,,
    https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/09/02/it-from-bit-wheeler/

    The interesting thing about holding ‘everything is information”, as Wheeler did, (and as many leading Quantum Physicists still do today), is that Christianity ‘predicted’ that ‘everything is information’ thousands of years before it was discovered by quantum mechanics.

    As Anton Zeilinger has stated, “the concept that information is fundamental is very old knowledge of humanity, witness for example the beginning of gospel according to John: “In the beginning was the Word.””

    Why the Quantum? It from Bit? A Participatory Universe?
    Excerpt: “In conclusion, it may very well be said that information is the irreducible kernel from which everything else flows. Thence the question why nature appears quantized is simply a consequence of the fact that information itself is quantized by necessity. It might even be fair to observe that the concept that information is fundamental is very old knowledge of humanity, witness for example the beginning of gospel according to John: “In the beginning was the Word.”
    Anton Zeilinger – (a leading experimentalist in quantum mechanics with many ‘jaw-dropping’ breakthroughs under his belt.)
    http://www.metanexus.net/archi.....linger.pdf

    In fact, as far as quantum mechanics is concerned, Zeilinger has gone on to state that “we cannot operationally separate the two. Whenever we talk about reality, we think about reality, we are really handling information.” and also reiterated his belief that “This reminds me of the beginning the bible of St. John which starts with “In the Beginning was the Word”.,,,

    49:28 mark: “This is now my personal opinion OK. Because we cannot operationally separate the two. Whenever we talk about reality, we think about reality, we are really handling information. The two are not separable. So maybe now, this is speculative here, maybe the two are the same? Or maybe information (is) constitutive to the universe. This reminds me of the beginning the bible of St. John which starts with “In the Beginning was the Word”.,,,
    Prof Anton Zeilinger speaks on quantum physics. at UCT – video
    https://youtu.be/s3ZPWW5NOrw?t=2969

    This is interesting thing in this is that, number 1, as Christians have been pointing out to atheists for decades now, (if not pointing it out to them for centuries), science is impossible without assuming theistic presuppositions.
    For instance, as Paul Davies pointed out, “Isaac Newton first got the idea of absolute, universal, perfect, immutable laws from the Christian doctrine that God created the world and ordered it in a rational way.” and as Davies also pointed out “science can proceed only if the scientist adopts an essentially theological worldview.”

    Taking Science on Faith – By PAUL DAVIES – NOV. 24, 2007
    Excerpt: All science proceeds on the assumption that nature is ordered in a rational and intelligible way. You couldn’t be a scientist if you thought the universe was a meaningless jumble of odds and ends haphazardly juxtaposed.
    ,,, the very notion of physical law is a theological one in the first place, a fact that makes many scientists squirm. Isaac Newton first got the idea of absolute, universal, perfect, immutable laws from the Christian doctrine that God created the world and ordered it in a rational way. Christians envisage God as upholding the natural order from beyond the universe, while physicists think of their laws as inhabiting an abstract transcendent realm of perfect mathematical relationships.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11.....avies.html

    Physics and the Mind of God: The Templeton Prize Address – by Paul Davies – August 1995
    Excerpt: “People take it for granted that the physical world is both ordered and intelligible. The underlying order in nature-the laws of physics-are simply accepted as given, as brute facts. Nobody asks where they came from; at least they do not do so in polite company. However, even the most atheistic scientist accepts as an act of faith that the universe is not absurd, that there is a rational basis to physical existence manifested as law-like order in nature that is at least partly comprehensible to us. So science can proceed only if the scientist adopts an essentially theological worldview.”
    https://www.firstthings.com/article/1995/08/003-physics-and-the-mind-of-god-the-templeton-prize-address-24

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Of course many of today’s scientists completely ignore the Christian foundation that modern science itself is dependent upon, (Indeed many of today’s scientists think of Christianity as little more than a ancient superstition), but, much contrary to whatever today’s scientists may be predisposed to believe about Christianity, allowing Christianity ‘back’ into modern science ‘surprisingly’ provides us with a very plausible, empirically backed, resolution to the much sought after ‘theory of everything’.

    In short, Christianity offers a solution to the number one problem in physics today, where Einstein himself, (as well as many, many, other brilliant minds), have, after decades upon decades of concerted effort, failed to find that solution to the ‘theory of everything’.

    Namely, allowing the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics, as the Christian founders of modern science originally envisioned,,,, (Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell, and Max Planck, to name a few of the Christian founders),,, and as quantum mechanics itself now empirically demands (with the closing of the free will loophole by Anton Zeilinger and company), rightly allowing the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics provides us with a very plausible resolution for the much sought after ‘theory of everything’ in that Christ’s resurrection from the dead provides an empirically backed reconciliation, via the Shroud of Turin, between quantum mechanics and general relativity into the much sought after ‘Theory of Everything”. Here are a few posts where I lay out and defend some of the evidence for that claim:

    (August – 2020) Yet we do not have just one mathematical ‘theory of everything’ that describes the universe. We have two theories, General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, that simply refuse to be unified into a single overarching ‘theory of everything’.
    In fact, there is an infinite mathematical divide that separates the two theories.,,,
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/god-and-mathematics-why-does-mathematics-work/#comment-710479

    September 2020 – despite the fact that virtually everyone, including the vast majority of Christians, hold that the Copernican Principle is unquestionably true, the fact of the matter is that the Copernican Principle is now empirically shown, (via quantum mechanics and general relativity, etc..), to be a false assumption.
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/new-edition-of-inference-review-features-richard-buggs-james-shapiro-and-larry-krauss/#comment-713367

    (February 19, 2019) To support Isabel Piczek’s claim that the Shroud of Turin does indeed reveal a true ‘event horizon’, the following study states that ‘The bottom part of the cloth (containing the dorsal image) would have born all the weight of the man’s supine body, yet the dorsal image is not encoded with a greater amount of intensity than the frontal image.’,,,
    Moreover, besides gravity being dealt with, the shroud also gives us evidence that Quantum Mechanics was dealt with. In the following paper, it was found that it was not possible to describe the image formation on the Shroud in classical terms but they found it necessary to describe the formation of the image on the Shroud in discrete quantum terms.
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/experiment-quantum-particles-can-violate-the-mathematical-pigeonhole-principle/#comment-673178

    The evidence for the Shroud’s authenticity keeps growing. (Timeline of facts) – November 08, 2019
    What Is the Shroud of Turin? Facts & History Everyone Should Know – Myra Adams and Russ Breault
    https://www.christianity.com/wiki/jesus-christ/what-is-the-shroud-of-turin.html

    To give us a small glimpse of the power that was involved in Christ’s resurrection from the dead, the following recent article found that, ”it would take 34 Thousand Billion Watts of VUV radiations to make the image on the shroud. This output of electromagnetic energy remains beyond human technology.”

    Astonishing discovery at Christ’s tomb supports Turin Shroud – NOV 26TH 2016
    Excerpt: The first attempts made to reproduce the face on the Shroud by radiation, used a CO2 laser which produced an image on a linen fabric that is similar at a macroscopic level. However, microscopic analysis showed a coloring that is too deep and many charred linen threads, features that are incompatible with the Shroud image. Instead, the results of ENEA “show that a short and intense burst of VUV directional radiation can color a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin, including shades of color, the surface color of the fibrils of the outer linen fabric, and the absence of fluorescence”.
    ‘However, Enea scientists warn, “it should be noted that the total power of VUV radiations required to instantly color the surface of linen that corresponds to a human of average height, body surface area equal to = 2000 MW/cm2 17000 cm2 = 34 thousand billion watts makes it impractical today to reproduce the entire Shroud image using a single laser excimer, since this power cannot be produced by any VUV light source built to date (the most powerful available on the market come to several billion watts )”.
    Comment
    The ENEA study of the Holy Shroud of Turin concluded that it would take 34 Thousand Billion Watts of VUV radiations to make the image on the shroud. This output of electromagnetic energy remains beyond human technology.
    http://westvirginianews.blogsp.....in-is.html

    Verse:

    Colossians 1:15-20
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Might I apologize to News for taking the issue of magnetism, and magnetic navigation in particular, so far afield from what she originally intended in her OP. 🙂

  6. 6
    polistra says:

    Semi-OT but important in terms of sensory design and purpose:

    https://www.sciencenews.org/article/goby-fish-fins-sensitive-feel-touch-fingertips

    Fish fins look like fingers, and it turns out that they have pretty much the same neural connections and sensory abilities as primate fingers. Another obvious example of LIFE IS PURPOSE, another hard case for random mutation.

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