Home » Intelligent Design » Move Over Mendel, It’s Time for Epigenetics!

Move Over Mendel, It’s Time for Epigenetics!

At the turn of the 19th century, Darwinism was dealt a harsh blow due to the discovery of Mendel’s work on genetics. The Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium, among other such consequences, flowing from this newly minted science, dramatically pointed to the limitations that Mendel’s theory represented vis-a-vis Darwinism.

Darwinists, ever religiously motivated to come up with rationalizations, found a cudgel—through the work of neo-Darwinists—with which to fight back against the discovery of genes.

A new century. New discoveries. New challenges.

In a paper just published in Science, the authors present the findings of their work on the ‘lab-rat’ of plant studies, Arabidopsis thaliana which show the profound, if not defining, influence that epigenetics can have on “evolution”.

Here’s the link.

One quote that I love:

Ecker said the results of the study provide some of the first evidence that the epigenetic code can be rewritten quickly and to dramatic effect. “This means that genes are not destiny,” he said. “If we are anything like these plants, our epigenome may also undergo relatively rapid spontaneous change that could have a powerful influence on our biological traits.”

I have been arguing here for years that the environment has to be involved in some kind of triggering event for gene ‘turn-ons/turn-offs’. How else to explain “cecal valves” developing in a lizard living alone on an island in the Adriatic in only thirty or so years. (Here’s the link)

But there’s more.

“We think these epigenetic events might silence genes when they aren’t needed, then turned them back on when external conditions warrant,” Ecker said. “We won’t know how important these epimutations are until we measure the effect on plant traits, and we’re just now to the point where we can do these experiments. It’s very exciting.”

I’ve also contended for years that needed genes are present in the genome, and are simply turned on and off as needed. So much for “changing gene frequencies”. This isn’t “changing gene frequencies” (the normal description of “evolution”), but changing epigenetic markers, something that, interestingly, smacks a little of Darwin’s “pan genes”, but more strongly of Lamarkcism.

And, for the final crushing blow:

The researchers discovered that as many as a few thousand methylation sites on the plants’ DNA were altered each generation. Although this represents a small proportion of the potentially six million methylation sites estimated to exist on Arabidopsis DNA, it dwarfs the rate of spontaneous change seen at the DNA sequence level by about five orders of magnitude.

Elizabeth, where are you? How about ‘genes’ being there when you need them, and not just hypothesized alleles somehow generated through neutral drift.

Another day; another bad day for Darwinism!

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5 Responses to Move Over Mendel, It’s Time for Epigenetics!

  1. One more lovely quote:

    We think these epigenetic events might silence genes when they aren’t needed, then turned them back on when external conditions warrant,” Ecker said. “We won’t know how important these epimutations are until we measure the effect on plant traits, and we’re just now to the point where we can do these experiments. It’s very exciting.”

    Isn’t it time to revisit Kettlewell’s experiment with moths?

  2. Darwinism was dealt a harsh blow due to the discovery of Mendel’s work on genetics. The Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium, among other such consequences, flowing from this newly minted science, dramatically pointed to the limitations that Mendel’s theory represented vis-a-vis Darwinism.

    Could you elaborate on this or at least give reference to such? Thank you.

  3. Pav,

    Great idea. Kettlewell’s experiment never did show anything new arising in the population, just a shift in ratios, which eventually shifted back. Could have been predation, although there are several problems with the typical storyline there. Would be interesting to know if switches were involved.

  4. Eric:

    What’s worse is that the study was done over, and it was demonstrated that Darwinian selection was at work. I now think that the do-over study may have been ‘cooked’.

  5. Read about Wm. Bateson, and the climate during the 1900′s to the 1910′s. Darwinism had to make a ‘comeback’.

    Just do a Wikipedia search for the history behind the Hardy-Weinberg Law (Equilibrium)

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