CRISPER is a complex strategy bacteria use for getting rid of bacteria. More on that in a minute.
You may remember Lamarck, that guy your biology tacher used to ridicule so easily, in favour of Darwin. Following an excellent article by Carl Zimmer on how bacteria are far more sophisticated than anyone imagined, we read,
For students of the history of biology, this kind of heredity echoes a largely discredited theory promoted by the naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in the early 19th century. Lamarck argued for the inheritance of acquired traits. To illustrate his theory, he had readers imagine a giraffe gaining a long neck by striving to reach high branches to feed on. A nervous fluid, he believed, stretched out its neck, making it easier for the giraffe to reach the branches. It then passed down its lengthened neck to its descendants.
The advent of genetics seemed to crush this idea. There didn’t appear to be any way for experiences to alter the genes that organisms passed down to their offspring. But CRISPR revealed that microbes rewrite their DNA with information about their enemies — information that Barrangou showed could make the difference between life and death for their descendants.
Did this mean that CRISPR meets the requirements for Lamarckian inheritance? “In my humble opinion, it does,” said Koonin.
Fragments from the article:
We’ve barely begun to understand how CRISPR works in the natural world. Microbes use it as a sophisticated immune system, allowing them to learn to recognize their enemies. Now scientists are discovering that microbes use CRISPR for other jobs as well. The natural history of CRISPR poses many questions to scientists, for which they don’t have very good answers yet. But it also holds great promise. Doudna and her colleagues harnessed one type of CRISPR, but scientists are finding a vast menagerie of different types. Tapping that diversity could lead to more effective gene editing technology, or open the way to applications no one has thought of yet.
As important as these results were, microbiologists were also grappling with even more profound implications of CRISPR. It showed them that microbes had capabilities no one had imagined before.
Before the discovery of CRISPR, all the defenses that microbes were known to use against viruses were simple, one-size-fits-all strategies. Restriction enzymes, for example, will destroy any piece of unprotected DNA. Scientists refer to this style of defense as innate immunity…
Also: “More sophisticated than anyone imagined” Should we start a new category, like “Earlier than thought?”
Why didn’t anyone imagine it? Because simpler tructures may be accounted for by Darwinian evolution (natural selection acting on random mutation) as all or most of the variation in life forms, as Darwinians have averred. Acomfortable thought, and therrefore believed. Commitment to Darwinian evolution made it difficult to even guess that massive specified complexity could really exist. Someone should write a book about ways that Darwinism has impeded science that go well beyond wrecking doubters’ careers.
See also: Is “dark genome” becoming the new name for junk DNA? (But old concepts die hard, especially when they are value-laden as “junk DNA” has been)
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