Home » Intelligent Design » The Social Amoeba Genome: More Evidence of Front Loading

The Social Amoeba Genome: More Evidence of Front Loading

On a listserve which shall remain nameless a botanist yesterday was casting about for a good representative of a colonial protozoan. Having read up on the model organism Dictyostelium discoideum (common name “social amoeba”) a couple years ago and blogging on it then I immediately suggested it and described why it is a model for protozoan to metazoan evolution and also described its interesting display of altruism:

“a good colonial protozoan”

A model organism for metazoan evolution: the social amoeba.

Fascinating critter and recently completely sequenced (see link below). It’s also a model for altruism. When times get tough the tough social amoebas get together under a chemical call to arms where a million of the usually independent animals gather together to form a slug which raises a stiff shaft out of the soil into the air upon which form spores. After the spores are released they separate and go about their business as independent animals again. Except for those comrades whose bodies formed the stiff shaft. They die. At the time of formation none know which will be sacrificed but in the end… “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one.” -Lt. Commander Spock

Biologists Determine Genetic Blueprint Of Social Amoeba

-Dave Springer

I always like to include an interesting link on the subject matter and I googled up the one above without really doing more than skimming it. That the social amoeba had been completely sequenced was news to me yesterday even though it was completed 18 months ago (I REALLY need to bite the bullet and buy a subscription to NATURE). When my own listserve article bounced back to my mailbox I clicked on the link again and read the whole article.

Low and behold I stumbled onto this gem of a quote in the Science Daily article:

“It is more closely related to fungi and animals than we had previously thought,” says Adam Kuspa, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and a senior author of the Nature paper.

The discovery will also improve geneticists’ understanding of how the genes from Dictyostelium and other genetic model organisms have been conserved or adapted through evolution in humans and other organisms.

“The cells which gave rise to plants and animals had more types of genes available to them than are presently found in either plants or animals,” explains William Loomis, a professor of biology at UCSD and one of the key members of the international sequencing effort. “Specialization appears to lead to loss of genes as well as the modification of copies of old genes. As each new genome is sequenced, we learn more about the history and physiology of the progenitors and gain insight into the function of human genes.”

“The cells which gave rise to plants and animals had more types of genes available to them than are presently found in either plants or animals” -William Loomis

More genes available to single celled predecessors of metazoan animals and plants?! This was a testable prediction of the front loading hypothesis I made a couple years ago on Panda’s Thumb, although I was more interested in the genome of amoeba dubia because of the size of its genome which is some 200 times the size of the human genome by weight of DNA in the cell.

Can you spell “front loading”? I knew you could. Nothing in organic evolution makes sense except in the light of front loading. :-)

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17 Responses to The Social Amoeba Genome: More Evidence of Front Loading

  1. “Specialization appears to lead to loss of genes as well as the modification of copies of old genes.” Yet, is this not another definition of micro-evolution? If this then is a loss of information, how can NDE’ers claim this is just macro-evolution (requiring a net gain of information) writ small? Man, this NDE is amazing stuff!

  2. sabre — I don’t think you are using macroevolution correctly. Macroevolution can mean a variety of things (body plan changes, speciation, etc.), but in any definition, front-loading in the way that DaveScot describes would in fact be a mechanism of macroevlution. It is just a telic form of it.

  3. Wow this is awesome stuff. Blind watchmaker what?? I’m sure you’ll make front page at Panda’s Thumb. Speaking of PT, they’re beginning to look more like a damage-control propaganda center than a science-blog. Many of the stories there are responses to posts on UD or news about the “evils” of religion.

  4. Hi Dave. This is pretty darn amazing. I hope the folks down at telicthoughts are reading it.

    Btw, what’s with the Scot/Springer thing. When I first encountered the Springer thing I assumed it was Davison trying to insult you — implying that you and Jerry Springer have something in common.

  5. bFast

    Jerry Springer is my first cousin!

    Not! I wish he was though. Jerry has one of the coolest jobs I can imagine. Scot is my middle name.

  6. Johnnyb: What I meant was that micro-evolution (variation within a species) was extrapolated by Darwin to explain macro-evolution (i.e. the origination of new body plans systems, organs, etc.), and still seems to be the prevailing belief amoung evolutionists. To put it another way, observed micro-evolution is held up as proof that macro-evolution occured by the same unguided and random mechanisms.

    I agree that front-loading is one possible explaination for origin of all that diversity. My sarcasm was directed at the NDE’ers out there who would rather believe micro-to-macro via RM&NS than even consider the possibility of a telic mechanism.

  7. It’s probably worth pointing out that Dictyostelium has somewhere in the region of a third to half the number of genes as humans. I’m not entirely sure what is meant by “more types of genes” in this case as I haven’t read the paper, but as an example you would expect single celled organisms to have many more types of metabolic enzymes since they have to synthesise a lot of compounds we get in our diet.

    “I agree that front-loading is one possible explaination for origin of all that diversity. My sarcasm was directed at the NDE’ers out there who would rather believe micro-to-macro via RM&NS than even consider the possibility of a telic mechanism.”

    Personally I would like nothing more than to see someone take these frontloading ideas and turn them into a mechanism. Then there could be a proper debate about TOE vs ID.

  8. Chris Hyland

    I would like nothing more than to see someone take these frontloading ideas and turn them into a mechanism. Then there could be a proper debate about TOE vs ID.

    That’s exactly what John Davison did and it’s published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology. Granted you can’t have an internet debate with him in it but on the other hand I haven’t seen anyone address the semi-meiotic hypothesis in the proper forum of print media either. Certainly enough reviewers have heard about it by now but no one has disputed it. What’s up with that?

    Because of this I don’t trust anyone at all from your side saying they want a mechanism and a proper debate. You’ve had one mechanism (at least) for 22 years and have refused to address it.

  9. Chris

    This has the same quote from Loomis and goes into more detail.

    http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/newsr.....amoeba.asp

    Interesting tree of life there, innit? :-)

  10. Chris Hyland

    I’m not entirely sure what is meant by “more types of genes” in this case

    If the well hadn’t been poisoned someone could write to Loomis and ask for clarification but as soon as he knows it might be used to support “ID Creationism” you won’t know if you get an honest answer because he knows he’ll be castigated by the vast majority of his peers for saying anything that could be construed as helping the “IDiots”.

    Thus we IDiots have to comb the literature looking for quotes made during a moment of innocent honesty. Sucks, doesn’t it? Science isn’t supposed to work like that. Your side has turned science into politics and you punish those who wander from the reservation with political consequences.

    A year ago I might’ve considered the spectre of Sternberging to be overblown by ID pundits but after several months of being a member on an underground ID listserv with scores of working scientists on it I know it’s not overblown. Just recently the subject came up of putting together a list of peer-reviewed publications by scientists who believe in ID and with few exceptions none of those on the listserve wanted their papers on an ID-connected list due to risk of adverse career consequences.

    That discussion is what spurred Dembski to write the “Dissenting from Darwin” article yesterday.

    Real nice situation the asshats on your side have created that frightens scientists into not only not saying what they think but fearful of even of the hint of having heretical ID thoughts.

  11. Chris Hyland:
    Personally I would like nothing more than to see someone take these frontloading ideas and turn them into a mechanism. Then there could be a proper debate about TOE vs ID.

    Design is a mechanism and it is just as valid of a mechanism as anything the ToE has to offer.

  12. “That’s exactly what John Davison did and it’s published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology. ”

    I read that paper a while back. It didn’t reallty talk about design. I can understand how it could be a start but the paper doesnt explain how it is a telic mechanism.

    “Interesting tree of life there, innit?”

    Im not seeing anything particularly controversial in that link.

    “If the well hadn’t been poisoned someone could write to Loomis and ask for clarification but as soon as he knows it might be used to support “ID Creationism” you won’t know if you get an honest answer because he knows he’ll be castigated by the vast majority of his peers for saying anything that could be construed as helping the “IDiots”.”

    I was thinking about reading the paper but Im sure if someone wrote for him he’d be happy to clarify. Im not sure why he’d be afraid to tell you. He’d only be annoyed if you misrepresent what he says.

    “Thus we IDiots have to comb the literature looking for quotes made during a moment of innocent honesty. Science isn’t supposed to work like that. Your side has turned science into politics and you punish those who wander from the reservation with political consequences.”

    Im not sure what you mean by moment of innocent honesty. No science is not supposed to work like that, it’s supposed to work by doing research and testing your ideas. I sympathise with people who are afraid to say the support ID, but the public perception of it is just as much the fault of one side than it is the other. Having said that I know at least two young scientists who don’t believe in evolution and are getting a long just fine, because they are producing good work, which is what matters. In theory it should be quite easy for the several hundred people on that list to turn ID into a productive research program, in which case those people who supported ID but hadn’t come out in support wouldn’t have a problem.

    “Design is a mechanism and it is just as valid of a mechanism as anything the ToE has to offer.”

    Unfortunately it isn’t a mechanism that can really be tested.

  13. “Design is a mechanism and it is just as valid of a mechanism as anything the ToE has to offer.”

    “Unfortunately it isn’t a mechanism that can really be tested.”

    Neither is evolution.

  14. “Design is a mechanism and it is just as valid of a mechanism as anything the ToE has to offer.”

    Chris Hyland:
    Unfortunately it isn’t a mechanism that can really be tested.

    Take two mechanically inclined people and the proper resources. Give one the plans to assemble a complex piece of machinery. Don’t give the other person any plans. Let them have at it.

    In fact we see all too often what happens when people do things willy-nilly as opposed to having an intelligently designed process to follow.

    But anyway- Dr Behe just gave us the following:

    The National Academy of Sciences has objected that intelligent design is not falsifiable, and I think that’s just the opposite of the truth. Intelligent design is very open to falsification. I claim, for example, that the bacterial flagellum could not be produced by natural selection; it needed to be deliberately intelligently designed. Well, all a scientist has to do to prove me wrong is to take a bacterium without a flagellum, or knock out the genes for the flagellum in a bacterium, go into his lab and grow that bug for a long time and see if it produces anything resembling a flagellum. If that happened, intelligent design, as I understand it, would be knocked out of the water. I certainly don’t expect it to happen, but it’s easily falsified by a series of such experiments.

    Now let’s turn that around and ask, How do we falsify the contention that natural selection produced the bacterial flagellum? If that same scientist went into the lab and knocked out the bacterial flagellum genes, grew the bacterium for a long time, and nothing much happened, well, he’d say maybe we didn’t start with the right bacterium, maybe we didn’t wait long enough, maybe we need a bigger population, and it would be very much more difficult to falsify the Darwinian hypothesis.

    I think the very opposite is true. I think intelligent design is easily testable, easily falsifiable, although it has not been falsified, and Darwinism is very resistant to being falsified. They can always claim something was not right.

    (which was presented at UD by GilD)

  15. [...] A prediction of front-loading is genes required for multicellularity being discovered in unicellular organisms, and I have previously suggested looking at amoebae, one of the oldest eukaryotes. Over at Uncommon Descent, DaveScot mentions that the amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum has had its genome sequenced. And that is good news for front-loading fans. [...]

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  17. [...] The Social Amoeba Genome: More Evidence of Front Loading …May 1, 2012 … Amoeba dubia. … Genus: Amoeba ( ) – Bory de St. Vincent, 1822. Specific descriptor: dubia – Sch. Scientific name: – Amoeba dubia Sch. [...]

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