Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Evolution News - Another Creationist Dogma Refuted - Evolution by LOSS of Information!

Pseudoblepharisma tenue with endosymbionts - green algae and purple bacteria
© Sebastian Hess
An unusual symbiosis of a ciliate, green alga, and purple bacterium

One of the problems with Creationism is that, because it is not evidence-based and relies on religious dogma and disinformation, it is constantly having to ignore evidence which refutes those dogmas. Then, as Francis Collins pointed out, if Creationists ever grow up and discover scieence, they feel they have to abandon religion because it has been proved wrong. They also discover they've been lied to from the pulpit and by self-serving liars they were fooled into thinking were honest and giving them good information.

To remain members of the Creationist cult, therefore, Creationists must continue to ignore evidence such as this, or face that awful prospect of having to consider being wrong about everything fundamental to their lives and admit being the victims of unscrupulous frauds.

Nevertheless, the facts are what they are, and the fact in this case is that, contrary to Creationist dogma, evolution can, and does, occur through a loss of information. In fact, this is commonplace in parasitology - which is one reason why Creationists will rarely discuss parasitology.

In a paper recently published open access, in the journal Science Advances, a team of biologists led by Dr. Sebastian Hess from the Institute of Zoology at the University of Cologne, Germany, has discovered an unusual single-celled flagellate organism, Pseudoblepharisma tenue, which has in its body two endosymbiotic organisms, an algae and a previously unknown purple bacterium belonging to the family of so-called ‘purple sulfur bacteria’ (family Chromatiaceae). It was discovered living in the hypoxic sediment in ponds in Simmelried, a moorland near the German city of Konstanz am Bodensee.

An interesting picture emerges from the different perspectives, from observations of nature to the gene repertoire of the symbiotic partners. The symbiosis has created a hybrid creature that has never existed before: a mobile and voracious ciliate animal, which at the same time uses light energy in the deeper, oxygen-poor layers of the water. The algae seem to play a subordinate role. Instead, the innovation comes from the oxygen-avoiding sulfur purple bacteria.

Dr. Sergio Muñoz-Gómez, first author Institute for Zoology, Cologne Biocenter, University of Cologne, Germany.
And the Center for Mechanism of Evolution, The Biodesign Institute, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, AZ, USA.
Purple sulphur bacteria normally produce energy by fixing reduced sulphur compounds and are sensitive to oxygen, so they tend to inhabit sulphate-rich, hypoxic environments. However, this particular bacterium, in the course of its adaptation to living symbiotically in association with oxygen-dependent, photosynthesising, green algae, has lost the genes for fixing reduced sulphur and is now entirely dependent on its host and fellow symbiont for energy.

The team have been able to reconstruct the entire genomes of the three organisms involved in the symbiosis. There results are available, open access in Science Advances:
Oxygenic photosynthesizers (cyanobacteria and eukaryotic algae) have repeatedly become endosymbionts throughout evolution. In contrast, anoxygenic photosynthesizers (e.g., purple bacteria) are exceedingly rare as intracellular symbionts. Here, we report on the morphology, ultrastructure, lifestyle, and metagenome of the only “purple-green” eukaryote known. The ciliate Pseudoblepharisma tenue harbors green algae and hundreds of genetically reduced purple bacteria. The latter represent a new candidate species of the Chromatiaceae that lost known genes for sulfur dissimilation. The tripartite consortium is physiologically complex because of the versatile energy metabolism of each partner but appears to be ecologically specialized as it prefers hypoxic sediments. The emergent niche of this complex symbiosis is predicted to be a partial overlap of each partners’ niches and may be largely defined by anoxygenic photosynthesis and possibly phagotrophy. This purple-green ciliate thus represents an extraordinary example of how symbiosis merges disparate physiologies and allows emergent consortia to create novel ecological niches.

So, we have here an example of evolution by gene loss and reduced complexity, yet Creationist dogma claims evolution always requires a gain in information and increased complexity. We also have an example of a beneficial loss of information even though the recent addition to the Creationist playbook is the idiotic notion that any mutation must be 'devolutionary' therefore detrimental (© 2019 Michael J. Behe/Discovery Insitute) because it is a move away from the initial perfection at the moment of special creation by a magic creator.

Plus, we have a beautiful example of how 'selfish' genes can produce coperative alliances, contrary to Creationist claims based on a deliberate misrepresentaion of the term 'selfish gene' to mean geans for selfishness.

This refutation of sacred Creationist dogmas was, of course, entirely incidentaly and done without the slightest intent by the reseaarch team because, as a childish, contra-evidential dogma, Creationism is highly vulnerable to facts and scientific advancement. Its continuation is thus a mystery and a major embarrassment to mainstream religions and religious scientists such as Francis Collins.

This repeated tendency to force Creationists to consider the possibility that they could be wrong and the painful dissonance this sets up in their minds, is the cause of so much hostility to science and biology in particular. Fundamentalists understand better than anyone that science undermines both their 'faith' and the utility value of the excuses it provides them with.

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