Intelligent Design Plants Tree of life

Many plankton behave like both plants and animals, challenging biological concepts

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Tales from the Tree Bundle of Seedlings, or maybe best called Web of Life:

Traditionally, marine microplankton had been divided similarly to species on land. You had plant-like phytoplankton, such as algae, and animal-like zooplankton that ate the phytoplankton. What Stoecker found was that some of these organisms were somewhere in the middle: They could eat like animals when food was present and photosynthesize like plants in the light. “If you think about it, it can be the best of both worlds,” says marine ecologist Dave A. Caron of the University of Southern California.

Today, there’s growing realization that these in-between beasties — dubbed mixotrophs — are not only widespread but also play vital roles in the ecology of the oceans.Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, “Mixing it up in the web of life” at Knowable Magazine

It turns out that these “mixotrophs” are fairly common and they may play a key role in the carbon cycle of the ocean due to their general flexibility (they can also eat each other). No one knows why,k apart from carnivorous plants, mixotrophy is far more common in the ocean than on land.

But none of this does much for traditional biological classifications like “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral” and a tidy Tree of Life.

Maybe horizontal gene transfer was involved? Plankton could adapt swiftly borrowing genes from nearby organism.

See also: A physicist looks at biology’s problem of “speciation” in humans

and

Horizontal gene transfer: Sorry, Darwin, it’s not your evolution any more

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13 Replies to “Many plankton behave like both plants and animals, challenging biological concepts

  1. 1
    Bob O'H says:

    But none of this does much for traditional biological classifications like “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral” and a tidy Tree of Life.

    Why not? They don’t mention any evidence that the chloroplasts are inherited.

  2. 2
    ScuzzaMan says:

    My problem with the problem of speciation in humans is the constantly-evolving definition of a species.

    When I was young (admittedly some decades ago) we were taught that the (note the singular) definition was that two populations were the same species if individuals could (A) interbreed, and (B) produce viable offspring by so doing. This practical animal husbandry rule of thumb served adequately until various interest groups wanted to multiply the species count in accord with their favoured flavour of darwinism.

    But IF it is true that there are 7 different species of finches in the Galapagos islands, even though they all successfully interbreed AND produce viable offspring, THEN there is no reason to suppose that a Kalahari bushman and a Norse viking are the same species.

    But such political third rails cannot be touched by those whose malleable worldviews are forged and hammered in the fires of public opinion, and so principled applications of logic are foregone in favour of craven self-negations.

    There are a significant number of important biological concepts that are not only deserving of challenge, but also of outright rejection. The post-modern definitions of species certainly fit this bill.

    Any concept that doesn’t have intrinsic engineering application – see reference to “animal husbandry“, above – is at best speculation. This is merely another way of saying that the proposition must be testable to be worthy of consideration.

  3. 3
    Ed George says:

    In my past life I did research on microplankton and knew Diane Stoecker. She is scary smart.

    Maybe horizontal gene transfer was involved?

    I don’t see how. These ciliates, which reach concentrations of several per mL of surface water, obtain their chlorophyll from ingesting algae and sequestering the chloroplasts. These cilliates, along with their non photosynthetic cousins, form an important link in the marine food chain transferring energy from bacterioplankton and small algae through copepods to fish.

    Marine plankton have always been a passion of mine. Unfortunately employment opportunities were limited when I was young and, frankly, I didn’t have the necessary ambition. Analytical chemistry was just something I fell in to.

  4. 4
    Latemarch says:

    Bob O’H

    Why not? They don’t mention any evidence that the chloroplasts are inherited.

    From the article:

    Scientists know now that there are myriad mixotrophs in the ocean and they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, as well as in two main types. There are constitutive mixotrophs, whose own physiology permits production of energy from the sunlight. And there are non-constitutive mixotrophs, like Stoecker’s Strombidium and L. strobila, that must steal photosynthetic organelles from their prey, or keep whole algae hostage within them, in order to do it.

  5. 5
    ET says:

    Ed George:

    In my past life I did research on microplankton …

    And that is where you became familiar with the Acartia genus. 😛

  6. 6
    lantog says:

    But none of this does much for traditional biological classifications like “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral” and a tidy Tree of Life.

    How is mineral a biological classification? I dont think Animal, Vegetable, Mineral has ever been a “traditional classification system” at least not in the last 300 years. I think its probably been known for ~100 years that Euglena is a mixotroph and its never been a problem for classification because classification is not based on whether or not something is photosynthetic but rather its nested set of relationships. So the Euglenids are most closely related to the kinetoplasts such as Trypanosomes – which is a parasite that causes sleeping sickness

  7. 7
    Ed George says:

    ET

    And that is where you became familiar with the Acartia genus.

    I’m not familiar with the genus Acartia. My research invoked spirotrichs, a class of marine ciliates that is found almost everywhere in the ocean surface waters. One group is even found in the interstitial spaces in the ice in the arctic. They can reproduce by asexual fission but need a meritocracy reproduction every so many generations or they will die. One group can cheat this need by undergoing an internal meitic process followed by “self fertilization”. Amazing little critters.

  8. 8
    Ed George says:

    Lantag

    How is mineral a biological classification?

    I think it is a reference to Linnaeus’ original classification system.

  9. 9
    Mimus says:

    When I was young (admittedly some decades ago) we were taught that the (note the singular) definition was that two populations were the same species if individuals could (A) interbreed, and (B) produce viable offspring by so doing

    When you were young you were taught the approximate rule that is used in high school biology (and even then often presented with counter-examples). If you continued to study biology you wll have dicussed this and other species concepts more critically. Evolutionary biologists have never thought of the Biological Species Concept as the One True Species Concept (though it was especially influential from the 1940s or so).

  10. 10
    Brother Brian says:

    It is mistifying why ID keeps bringing up the often blurred lines between species, as if it somehow disproves evolution. Could it possibly be because of the title of Darwin’s book?

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    BB states “as if it somehow disproves evolution”

    Hmm, disproving and/or falsifying a supposedly scientific theory. Interesting concept. I believe Popper may have mentioned something about that:

    “In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.”
    Karl Popper – The Two Fundamental Problems of the Theory of Knowledge (2014 edition), Routledge

    Darwin’s Theory vs Falsification – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rzw0JkuKuQ

    The Scientific Method – Richard Feynman – video
    Quote: ‘If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It doesn’t make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are who made the guess, or what his name is… If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL6-x0modwY

    Scientific method: Defend the integrity of physics
    George Ellis and Joe Silk – 16 December 2014
    Excerpt: As the philosopher of science Karl Popper argued: a theory must be falsifiable to be scientific.,,,
    In our view, the issue boils down to clarifying one question: what potential observational or experimental evidence is there that would persuade you that the theory is wrong and lead you to abandoning it? If there is none, it is not a scientific theory.
    https://www.nature.com/news/scientific-method-defend-the-integrity-of-physics-1.16535

    “There are five standard tests for a scientific hypothesis. Has anyone observed the phenomenon — in this case, Evolution — as it occurred and recorded it? Could other scientists replicate it? Could any of them come up with a set of facts that, if true, would contradict the theory (Karl Popper’s “falsifiability” tests)? Could scientists make predictions based on it? Did it illuminate hitherto unknown or baffling areas of science? In the case of Evolution… well… no… no… no… no… and no.”
    – Tom Wolfe – The Kingdom of Speech – page 17
    Darwinian Evolution Fails the Five Standard Tests of a Scientific Hypothesis – video
    https://youtu.be/L7f_fyoPybw

  12. 12
    Bob O'H says:

    Lstemarch @ 4 – that quote doesn’t answer my question, I’m afraid.

  13. 13
    ET says:

    Brother Brian- Evolutionism cannot account for any species.

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