What'sNEW Apr - Jun 2021
"Old genes in new places: A taxon-rich analysis of interdomain lateral gene transfer events" by Auden Cote-L'Heureux, Xyrus X. Maurer-Alcalá and Laura A. Katz, ed. by Cédric Feschotte, PLoS Genet., 22 Jun 2022.
Thanks, Jim Powers, for a pointer to a related article:
"Adaptive Evolution of C4 Photosynthesis through Recurrent Lateral Gene Transfer" by Auden Pascal-Antoine Christin et al., Current Biology, 06 Mar 2012.
Viruses and Other Gene Transfer Mechanisms cites many related examples.
Skepticism is foundational to cosmic ancestry. Which major innovations are explained - credibly and adequately - by neo-darwinian evolution?
"Diversity and ecological footprint of Global Ocean RNA viruses" by Guillermo Dominguez-Huerta, Ahmed A. Zayed et al., Science, 09 Jun 2022.
Viruses... has examples of viruses that supply genetic programming to cellular life.
"...A recent study of the Asteroid Ryugu...." from Okayama University [html | pdf], 10 Jun 2022.
"Building Blocks of Life Were Found on an Asteroid..." by Ben Turner, Live Science, 10 Jun 2022.
Thanks, Jacob Navia.
Comets... and ...Interstellar Dust have our slant on organics from space.
More about Ryugu comes from Science and NYT commentary, but no mention of organics.
"Samples returned from the asteroid Ryugu are similar to Ivuna-type carbonaceous meteorites" by Tetsuya Yokoyama, Kazuhide Nagashima et al., Science, 09 Jun 2022; and "Asteroid Samples May 'Rewrite the Chemistry of the Solar System'" by Kenneth Chang, The New York Times, 09 Jun 2022.
interview with Savithri Rodrigo for Sri Lankan TV, 60-min. YouTube video, online 03 Jun 2022.
interview with Indeewari Amuwatte for Hydepark, 40-min. YouTube video, online 30 May 2022.
Chandra Wickramasinghe has an introductory essay and updates.
Since our 20,000 human genes make up less than 2% of the human genome, this is noteworthy. The American Society for Microbiology is taking notice.
"Viruses Inside Us..." by Elise Phillips, ASM journal (+Mirage), 06 Jun 2022.
Thanks Google Alerts.
Viruses... has links to many related examples.
"How Could Life Evolve From Cyanide?" Steven Strogatz interviews Jack Szostak and Betül Kaçar for Quanta Magazine [transcript], 01 Jun 2022.
The RNA World... has more, including an excerpt from the transcript.
The RNA World... includes history and updates.
What Is Life? has relevant discussion.
George Nickas comments, 25 May 2022.
A hominoid-specific endogenous retrovirus may have rewired the gene regulatory network shared between primordial germ cells and naïve pluripotent cells, by Ito J, Seita Y, Kojima S, Parrish NF, Sasaki K, Sato K, PLoS Genet, e1009846, 12 May 2022.
Viruses... has links to countless examples of HGT advancing eukaryotic evolution.
17 May 2022: My email restates the foundational principle of cosmic ancestry.
Resolving the History of Life on Earth by Seeking Life As We Know It on Mars, by Christopher E. Carr, doi:10.1089/ast.2021.0043, Astrobiology, 25 Apr 2022.
...Life may have started on Mars, by Nicole Karlis, Salon, 08 Feb 2021. I agree wholeheartedly with the bold statement, but for other reasons. By cosmic ancestry, all of life is related. Besides, evidence for our kind of life on Mars is already noteworthy. My main disagreement is with the origin-of-life theorizing. As usual, the hardest part, genetic programming, is ignored.
Life on Mars! describes lots of evidence. Note especially A fossil on Mars....
The RNA World includes discussion and links about the software problem.
Genes and evolutionary fates of the amanitin biosynthesis pathway in poisonous mushrooms, by Hong Luo et al., doi:10.1073/pnas.2201113119, PNAS, 09 May 2022.
...Mushrooms Borrowed Toxin From a Mysterious Source, by Veronique Greenwood, The New York Times, 09 May; also Bob Yirka, PhysOrg, 10 May 2022.
Thanks for the full paper and helpful comments, Hong Luo.
Viruses... has links to countless examples of HGT advancing eukaryotic evolution.
Most US kids have caught the coronavirus..., by Smriti Mallapaty, Nature, 05 May 2022.
Other issues in the book relate even more directly to cosmic ancestry. Anthropologists think they find evidence of human speciation in centuries-old human remains. A dormant ancient virus is reactivated by environmental (social?) developments. The virus causes an evolutionary advance in humans. The theory of evolution faces a possible paradigm shift. Maverick scientists can see the way, but the science establishment will not be influenced.
Of course, there are fallibile heroes and redeemable villains. The characters and the settings are evocatively described. With plenty of plot, lots of drama and a surprise ending, Darwin's Radio is everything SciFi should be. I was first drawn to it because Greg Bear gave a paper to the American Philosophical Society in 2003, "When Genes Go Walkabout".Darwin's Radio by Greg Bear, Ballantine / Random House, 1999.
28 Feb 2006 "Can Viruses Make Us Human" references Bear's paper, published Sep 2004.
National Environmental Policy Act; Mars Sample Return Campaign, NASA, 14 Apr 2022.
Mars Sample Return, NASA homepage, with video link.
Thanks, Barry DiGregorio. Life on Mars! has history.
Geography-Dependent Horizontal Gene Transfer from Vertebrate Predators to Their Prey by Chiaki Kambayashi et al., doi:10.1093/molbev/msac052, Molecular Biology and Evolution, 11 Apr 2022.
Frogs have acquired DNA from snakes with the help of parasites by Jake Buehler, New Scientist, 26 Apr 2022.
Viruses... has links to thousands of examples of HGT affecting evolution.
I call that pseudo-panspermia. But the news would also support cosmic ancestry, because life-related and other complex organics from space look like remnants and degradation products of former life elsewhere.Identifying the wide diversity of extraterrestrial purine and pyrimidine nucleobases in carbonaceous meteorites by Y. Oba, Y. Takano, Y. Furukawa et al., Nature Communications, 26 Apr 2022.
All of life's nucleic acids could have extraterrestrial origins by Anthony King, Chemistry World, 27 Apr 2022.
All of the bases in DNA and RNA have now been found in meteorites by Liz Kruesi, Science News, 26 Apr 2022.
Meteorites ...contain key ingredients for life by Tatyana Woodall, Popular Science, 26 Apr 2022.
Thanks, Walter Klyce, Zach Baker, David Cotton, Ted Steele and Kenneth Augustyn.
08 Sep 2021: NASA says complex molecules are a sign of life.
Hoyle and Wickramasinghe's Analysis of Interstellar Dust has essential background.
Comets: The Delivery System has related discussion.
Amino Acid Asymmetry in the Murchison Meteorite! cites evidence (chirality) not mentioned in the study.
Double ridge formation over shallow water sills on Jupiter's moon Europa, by Riley Culberg et al., doi:10.1038/s41467-022-29458-3, Nature Communications, 19 Apr 2022.
Icy Moon Europa May Host Water Near the Surface, by Colin Stuart, Sky & Telescope, 19 Apr 2022.
Life on Europa, Other Moons, Other Planets? and Earth-analogs...
In a postscript she asks, "What, if any, responsibility do science fiction writers have to champion real science?" My thought: at least don't mislead us. In a long discourse about chirality Chambers seems unaware that amino acids from space, if not fully racemic, are always biased toward left-handedness. This implicates life as we know it – Lawki. Her mother, an astrobiologist, could have told her.To Be Taught, If Fortunate: a Novella, by Becky Chambers, Harper Voyager, Sep 2019.
Metabolically diverse primordial microbial communities in Earth's oldest seafloor-hydrothermal jasper, by Dominic Papineau et al., doi:10.1126/sciadv.abm2296, Science Advances, 13 Apr 2022.
Diverse life forms may have evolved earlier than previously thought, University College London, 13 Apr 2022.
Microfossils may be evidence life began 'very quickly'..., The Guardian, 13 Apr 2022.
Life Before 3850 Million Years Ago? has updates about evidence for early life.
The RNA World... has more about the time problem for any origin-of-life.
George Nickas replies with a comment.
Life on Europa... has links about icy worlds with intriguing coloring.
17 Apr 2009: life under Antarctic ice colors a glacier there.
The new study is comprehensive and worth studying. But so far, all quarantined experiments in biology or computer models only explore the potential of the genetic programming already installed. None has produced wholly new programming. Until they do, the far-reaching claims of neo-darwinism continue to lack experimental support.The evolution, evolvability and engineering of gene regulatory DNA, by E.D. Vaishnav, C.G. de Boer, J. Molinet et al., doi:10.1038/s41586-022-04506-6, Nature, 09 Mar 2022. Using our models, we study expression divergence under genetic drift and strong-selection weak-mutation regimes to find that regulatory evolution is rapid and subject to diminishing returns epistasis; that conflicting expression objectives in different environments constrain expression adaptation; and that stabilizing selection on gene expression leads to the moderation of regulatory complexity.
An oracle for gene regulation, by Andreas Wagner, Nature, 17 Mar 2022.
In Real or Artificial Life... includes updates about the best quarantined biological experiments.
10 Mar 2021: artificial intelligence is used to analyze prokaryotic evolution.
A team of archaeologists studying the Tanis fossil site in North Dakota for several years has found specimens that are extraordinarily well-preserved. We've got so many details with this site that tell us what happened moment by moment..., says Robert DePalma, the graduate student leading the dig. BBC's publicity promotes a forthcoming 90-minute TV documentary with David Attenborough:
Dinosaurs: The Final Day..., 15 Apr 2022.
The Day the Dinosaurs Died, by Douglas Preston, The New Yorker, 29 Mar 2019.
A seismically induced onshore surge deposit at the KPg boundary, North Dakota, by Robert A. DePalma et al., doi:10.1073/pnas.1817407116, PNAS, 01 Apr 2019. ...fish, densely packed in the deposit, contain ejecta spherules in their gills and were buried by an inland-directed surge....
Astonishment, skepticism greet fossils claimed..., by Colin Barras, Science, 01 Apr 2019.
The case and context for atmospheric methane as an exoplanet biosignature, by Maggie A. Thompson et al., doi:10.1073/pnas.2117933119 PNAS, 30 Mar 2022; and commentary: Methane could be the first detectable indication of life beyond Earth, by Tim Stephens, UC Santa Cruz +PhysOrg.com, 28 Mar 2022.
Thanks, Stan Franklin.
The case for methane as a biosignature stems from its instability in the atmosphere. Because photochemical reactions destroy atmospheric methane, it must be steadily replenished to maintain high levels.
Bacteriophages: New hope in combatting bacterial diseases, Proteon Pharmaceuticals, Poultry World, 04 Apr 2022.
Viruses... has background and links about HGT.
10 Mar 2021: new hub for prokaryotic evolution.
Bacteriophages ...and are estimated to be the most abundant biological entities on the planet. ...They are key mediators of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) via transduction.
Gaia introduces James Lovelock's theory of life and the planet affecting each other.