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Plant’s Epigenome as Varied as Their Environments

You probably remember that an organism’s DNA is collectively referred to as the genome and that it contains genes that code for proteins. What you may not know is that the genome is tagged here and there with small molecules helping to determine which genes to express. These small molecules are collectively referred to as the epigenome and one recent study found a tremendous variation between the epigenomes in the same species of plant collected from different locations around the world. As one researcher explained:  read more

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9 Responses to Plant’s Epigenome as Varied as Their Environments

  1. related note:

    Bacteria ‘Invest’ Wisely to Survive Uncertain Times, Scientists Report – Dec. 1, 2009
    Excerpt: “We have found that a particular genetic circuit is responsible for generating diversity within the bacteria population,”,,
    “There seems to be an optimization going on in these organisms,” he added.,,
    Essentially, variability of bacterial cells appears to match the variability in the environment, thereby increasing the chances of bacterial survival, he said.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....112102.htm

  2. C.Hunter: In order for an epigenetic change to occur and have any effect, there must be a small army of coordinated molecular machines that are working according to the same code. Some machines attach the tags according to external, environmental signals. Other machines remove or move the tags, again according to other signals. And yet other machines interpret the tags, thus influencing which proteins are expressed.

    Is there a mechanistic model for these epigenetic activities? How do the tags get placed at the right place? The tags can chemically be connected everywhere onto the DNA. How do the machines who deliver them have the knowledge, the controlled mobility, overview and vision which seems to be required? I mean do they use little underwater camera’s?

  3. 3
    Cornelius Hunter

    Box: Yes there are mechanistic models for these activities. For example, a particular chemical messenger binds with the exterior of the cell, causing a change on the interior of the cell, causing some chemical to be released, causing some protein to attach the tag, and so forth. We often don’t have the complete story, but as time goes by the details do get filled in.

  4. Yes there are mechanistic models for these activities. For example, a particular chemical messenger binds with the exterior of the cell, causing a change on the interior of the cell, causing some chemical to be released, causing some protein to attach the tag, and so forth.

    Dr.Hunter thank you for answering.
    Do we know how the protein arrives at the correct location of the DNA strand in order to attach the tag?

  5. Dr. Hunter,

    Nick Matzke seems unable or unwilling to provide us with a standard text on macro-evolutionary theory.

    How did you obtain your doctorate without advanced studies in macro-evolutionary theory?

    What text did you use?

  6. 6
    CentralScrutinizer

    @5 What text did you use?

    I’m waiting myself. A lot of us are. With baited anticipation.

  7. The Cult of Macro-Evolution requires but one sacrifice. Your Reason.

    I try to take Nick Matzke seriously. I don’t know why, but I do. But then he whines about not being taken seriously, and then when asked to produce a serious text in his field, he remains silent.

    Fraud or Cultist?

  8. Box, of note:

    Life, Purpose, Mind: Where the Machine Metaphor Fails – Ann Gauger – June 2011
    Excerpt: I’m a working biologist, on bacterial regulation (transcription and translation and protein stability) through signalling molecules, ,,, I can confirm the following points as realities: we lack adequate conceptual categories for what we are seeing in the biological world; with many additional genomes sequenced annually, we have much more data than we know what to do with (and making sense of it has become the current challenge); cells are staggeringly chock full of sophisticated technologies, which are exquisitely integrated; life is not dominated by a single technology, but rather a composite of many; and yet life is more than the sum of its parts; in our work, we biologists use words that imply intentionality, functionality, strategy, and design in biology–we simply cannot avoid them.
    Furthermore, I suggest that to maintain that all of biology is solely a product of selection and genetic decay and time requires a metaphysical conviction that isn’t troubled by the evidence. Alternatively, it could be the view of someone who is unfamiliar with the evidence, for one reason or another. But for those who will consider the evidence that is so obvious throughout biology, I suggest it’s high time we moved on. – Matthew
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....nt-8858161

  9. Bornagain77 (8), right on the mark!

    (…) we’re accustomed to talking and thinking about the cell as made up of machines (hardware), with DNA as the software program that somehow determines the hardware. This is an advance over imagining the cell as a few simple chemical reactions. But it’s still radically inadequate, if not obsolete, when trying to capture the reality of what we’re discovering in the biological world. We’re in search of more adequate conceptual categories. And the outcome will make our current descriptions look utterly inadequate. What we want to do is to catch up to the evidence, and get beyond our own, quite limited ways of speaking of these realities.

    (…) we lack adequate conceptual categories for what we are seeing in the biological world

    (…) cells are staggeringly chock full of sophisticated technologies, which are exquisitely integrated; life is not dominated by a single technology, but rather a composite of many; and yet life is more than the sum of its parts; in our work, we biologists use words that imply intentionality, functionality, strategy, and design in biology – we simply cannot avoid them.

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