Genetics Genomics Intelligent Design Plants

Devolution: The “surprising” gene costs of the carnivorous lifestyle to plants

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Now that three carnivorous plant species’ genomes (Venus flytrap, spoon-leaved sundew and the waterwheel plant) have been decoded:

To their surprise, the researchers discovered that the plants do not need a particularly large number of genes for carnivory. Instead, the three species studied are actually among the most gene-poor plants known. Drosera has 18,111, Dionaea 21,135 and Aldrovanda 25,123 genes. In contrast, most plants have between 30,000 and 40,000 genes.

How can this be reconciled with the fact that a wealth of new genes is usually needed to develop new ways of life? “This can only mean that the specialization in animal food was accompanied by an increase in the number of genes, but also a massive loss of genes,” concludes developmental biologist Hasebe…

Most of the genes required for the insect traps are also found in slightly modified form in normal plants. “In carnivorous plants, several genes are active in the trapping organs, which in other plants have their effect in the root. In the trapping organs, these genes are only switched on when the prey is secure,” explains Hedrich. This finding is consistent with the fact that the roots are considerably reduced in Venus flytrap and sundew. In the waterwheel they are completely absent.

University of Würzburg, “The carnivorous plant lifestyle is gene costly” at ScienceDaily

Hey guys, check out Michael Behe’s Darwin Devolves.

The Darwinian claim that natural selection acting on random mutation can, by itself, build complex machinery is one of the destructive myths of science today. But no question, natural selection can destroy complex machinery for a current advantage. In fact, that’s pretty much how it must work, in reality.

Paper. (open access)

See also: Devolution: Getting back to the simple life

8 Replies to “Devolution: The “surprising” gene costs of the carnivorous lifestyle to plants

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    Describing smaller genome sizes as indicating “genetic poverty” may be misleading since it implies that genome size is directly correlated with complexity. Yet, as we are no doubt all aware, the genome of the humble onion is nearly 5 times the size of the not always equally humble but physically much more complex human being. In light of that discrepancy, the smaller genome size of carnivorous plants compared with those of other non-carnivorous plants is not necessarily revealing.

  2. 2
    Querius says:

    Seversky,

    Your reaction is exactly what’s wrong with science today. In this case, it’s the default assumption that there’s nothing of interest between small and large genomes. Nothing to see here. Move along.

    In contrast, ID makes the assumption of design–that there’s a reason for the disparities, something to explore.

    Do you see the difference between the paradigms?

    -Q

  3. 3
    Seversky says:

    Querius @ 2

    Your reaction is exactly what’s wrong with science today. In this case, it’s the default assumption that there’s nothing of interest between small and large genomes. Nothing to see here. Move along.

    I did not say it was not interesting. My intention was to point out that it is too simplistic to assume that the size of a genome is directly correlated to the complexity of the organism.

    In contrast, ID makes the assumption of design–that there’s a reason for the disparities, something to explore

    Yes, ID makes the assumption of an unobserved and undefined designer. Of what use is that in explaining the disparity in genome sizes?

    Do you see the difference between the paradigms?

    Yes, the naturalistic approach has a better track record of success than that of ID.

  4. 4
    martin_r says:

    Seversky,

    what is your education, when will you answer this simple question ? I asked you that simple question like 1000 times.

  5. 5
    AaronS1978 says:

    Actually this is just a perfect example of Michael Behe’s Premise on how genes break down to get new novelty

    The article is actually pretty blatant about that as well

    Without even referencing the idea of ID
    You have to give Michael Behe credit for calling exactly this

  6. 6
    martin_r says:

    to AaronS1978

    everything is degrading… just look at wikipedia’s long list of humans’ harmful mutations and related diseases. It is pretty long list and it is growing everyday.

    Could some Darwinist (e.g. Seversky) send me a similar list with so called beneficial mutations ?

    So, where is the evolution when everything is degrading ?

    How all the species evolved when everything is degrading ?

    Something is very wrong with the Darwinian theory…

    Here is the mentioned list of genetic disorders:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_genetic_disorders

  7. 7
    martin_r says:

    i am an engineer, and ID proponent.

    I disagree with anyone who claims that new complex design can arise when something else gets broken. I just don’t buy that. If some biologist (natural science graduate) insists on it, i am afraid, that they just misinterpret something – they just don’t understand what they are looking at.

  8. 8
    ET says:

    LoL! @ sevedrsky:

    Yes, ID makes the assumption of an unobserved and undefined designer.

    As opposed to evos making assumptions of an unobserved and undefined process?

    At least ID is based on our KNOWLEDGE of cause-and-effect relationships. Evos have to go counter to that knowledge.

    Yes, the naturalistic approach has a better track record of success than that of ID.

    The naturalistic approach hasn’t had any success. At least ID concepts are used and proven useful with the advent of genetic algorithms which use telic processes to solve problems.

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