Genetics Intelligent Design News

Researchers create simple genetic circuit that produces striped pattern in bacteria

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Simple genetic circuit creates patterns/UCSD

From “How the Zebra Gets Its Stripes: A Simple Genetic Circuit” (ScienceDaily Oct. 14, 2011), we learn:

Now a team of scientists has designed a simple genetic circuit that creates a striped pattern that they can control by tweaking a single gene.

“The essential components can be buried in a complex physiological context,” said Terence Hwa, a professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego, and one of the leaders of the study published October 14 in Science. “Natural systems make all kinds of wonderful patterns, but the problem is you never know what’s really controlling it.”

With genes taken from one species of bacterium and inserted into another, Hwa and colleagues from the University of Hong Kong assembled a genetic loop from two linked modules that senses how crowded a group of cells has become and responds by controlling their movements.

The result of bacterial colony traffic control is target-like concentric rings.

Although individual bacteria are single cells, as colonies they can act like a multicellular organism, sending and receiving signals to coordinate the growth and other functions of the colony. That means fundamental rules that govern the development of these patterns could well apply to critical steps in the development of other organisms.

Well, maybe. Whether that is in fact how the zebra got its stripes is a separate question. As the researchers admit, “the developmental processes that create these and other patterns are complex and difficult to untangle.” But it is a neat experiment and a method for engineering concentric target stripes in bacteria.

9 Replies to “Researchers create simple genetic circuit that produces striped pattern in bacteria

  1. 1
    Petrushka says:

    You’d think that if design is superior to evolution, they could have done this without Xeroxing nature.

    Why copy something if you can design it? why copy if you can anticipate the effect of a genetic sequence from first principles?

  2. 2
    Joseph says:

    LoL! Nice question-begging-

  3. 3
    Petrushka says:

    Not question begging at all. One of the obvious things that ID proponents need to demonstrate is that it is possible to design without copying existing things.

    The ID argument is that evolution can’t produce “new” complex information. So far human designers haven’t demonstrated the ability to do this at all.

    The issue is being able to anticipate the effects of a new coding or regulatory sequence without producing random ones and employing selection.

  4. 4
    News says:

    Does the theorist in math or physics copy existing things when designing a theorem or simply observe them as evidence, and derive the hypothesis as a generality?

  5. 5
    Petrushka says:

    I’m not sure what you mean. Living things are physical objects. Designing them would require knowledge of how a coding sequence would be interpreted and how that would affect the phenotype, and how that would play out in the ecosystem.

    We seem able to copy genes from one organism to another, but have not demonstrated — even in principle — how to anticipate how coding strings will be interpreted. In fact, there is no way to anticipate how a new protein will fold, much less what it’s function would be.

    Anticipating function seems to be a problem on the order of exceeding the speed of light.

  6. 6
    Joseph says:

    Yes you are question-begging by A) assuming design excludes evolution and B) assuming living organisms are not designed.

    That said, the ID argument is NOT “that evolution can’t produce “new” complex information”– that is a strawman. ID says blind, undirected processes cannot take mere Shannon information and create complex specified information, ie csi from scratch.

  7. 7
    Joseph says:

    We seem able to copy genes from one organism to another, but have not demonstrated — even in principle — how to anticipate how coding strings will be interpreted. In fact, there is no way to anticipate how a new protein will fold, much less what it’s function would be.

    So evolutionary biologists’ lack of designing skills, means what?

  8. 8
    ScottAndrews says:

    Petrushka,

    The ability to interpret a genetic change and relate it to function would be critical if one wished to explain any evolutionary change in terms of any evolutionary mechanisms. I’ve been saying this forever, and to deaf ears. This is the reason why evolutionary explanations are always so disconnected and vague. Evolution supposedly results from individual genetic changes, but no one ever explains evolutionary events in those terms. They back off the specifics and revert to apparent transitions in fossils.

    In short, it’s one of the reasons why there’s no way of knowing whether any evolutionary story is true, and by extension, whether the whole premise is even remotely accurate.

    But now you’re ready to admit that collective ignorance if it will help you make an argument.

    Bravo!

  9. 9
    Eocene says:

    Petrushka:

    “One of the obvious things that ID proponents need to demonstrate is that it is possible to design without copying existing things.”
    =====

    Somewhere Dr Gerald Joyce and Dr Craig Venter just fell off a chair.
    —–

    Petrushka:

    “The ID argument is that evolution can’t produce “new” complex information. So far human designers haven’t demonstrated the ability to do this at all.”
    =====

    Again, you need to forward this revelation to Dr Gerald Joyce and Dr Craig Venter. Careful, this info could have the same reaction to egos, like taking a pin to a balloon.

    —–

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