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How Darwinism misled biologists about lichens

They spent a lot of time ridiculing what they should have been studying. They ridiculed the now commonly accepted idea that a lichen was algae and fungi living as if they were one organism: The very notion of different organisms living so closely with—or within—each other was unheard of. That they should coexist to their mutual benefit was more ludicrous still. This was a mere decade after Charles Darwin had published his masterpiece, On the Origin of Species, and many biologists were gripped by the idea of nature as a gladiatorial arena, shaped by conflict. Against this zeitgeist, the concept of cohabiting, cooperative organisms found little purchase. Lichenologists spent decades rejecting and ridiculing Schwendener’s “dual hypothesis.” And he himself wrongly Read More ›

Huge study shows yeasts evolve by reducing their complexity

Not by adding to it. Everyone seems to be talking about devolution (“reductive evolution”) these days. From ScienceDaily: “This is the first large genome project like this that actually looks at hundreds of different eukaryotic species, not different individuals or isolates of the same species,” says Chris Todd Hittinger, a UW-Madison genetics professor and one of the senior authors of the study. “Budding yeasts, despite their phenotypic similarity, are very different from one another genetically. They’re as different from one another as all animals or all plants are from one another.” Collecting such a deep pool of yeast types gave researchers enough information to use comparisons of the shifting genetics to redraw the budding yeast family tree into a dozen Read More ›