Saturday, 18 September 2021

Unintelligent Designer News - Muddling Through Without a Plan and No Idea About Good Design

Some caterpillars have a surprising ally for when attacked by an endoparasitic wasp.
Horizontally transmitted parasitoid killing factor shapes insect defense to parasitoids

You know, for a supposedly intelligent designer, Creationism's putative designer god, who designed everything in full and perfect knowledge of what it would do, comes up with some monumentally stupid designs. At times, it's almost exactly like it doesn't have a plan at all and has no idea what it is trying to achieve - other than a creation with as much suffering in it as possible, with no opportunity to make something sick ever ignored.

Here, for instance, is yet another example of how it designed something, then treated that design as a problem to be solved with another design, only to then design a way around that solution to the problem it designed earlier. It is, of course, another example of that major embarrassment to intelligent [sic] design creationists, parasitism and the inevitable evolutionary arms race.

The arms race in this case it that between moths and parasitoid wasps that lays their eggs in the living body of the moth larvae, or caterpillars. Creationists would, of course, assert that their divine malevolence designed the wasps to parasitise the caterpillars because it is the only intelligence capable of designing such a thing as a parasitoid wasp and its method of reproduction (although they never explain the exact method by which intelligence makes chemistry and physics do something they couldn't do without it, nor do they ever provided evidence that this has ever been observed to happen, seemingly preferring conjectures and mysteries to answers, whilst still pretending to be scientists).

Now, a group of researchers from the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Fuchu, Japan and the University of Saskatchewan Department of Biology, Saskatoon, Canada, have discovered that a virus carried by some caterpillars is lethal to the grubs of these parasitic wasps. Not only that, but some caterpillars are capable of manufacturing the toxic protein, or 'parasitoid killing factor' (PKF) themselves, without the virus. These moths have incorporated the genome of the virus into their own genome and now just use the portion of it that codes for the parasitoid-killing toxin.

They also found:
Some parasitoid wasps, including Meteorus pulchricornis, weren't affected by PKF from the viruses and also beet armyworms, allowing the wasp offspring to thrive inside caterpillars. That finding suggests that the wasp-fighting ability is species-specific, says Elisabeth Herniou, an insect virologist at CNRS and the University of Tours in France who was not involved in the work. Pinpointing why some wasps aren't susceptible could reveal the details of a long-held evolutionary battle between all three types of organisms.
From: Viruses Can Kill Wasp Larvae That Grow Inside Infected Caterpillars, Today News 24.
The group's findings are published in Science:

Interkingdom competition occurs between hymenopteran parasitoids and insect viruses sharing the same insect hosts. It has been assumed that parasitoid larvae die with the death of the infected host or as result of competition for host resources. Here we describe a gene family, parasitoid killing factor (pkf), that encodes proteins toxic to parasitoids of the Microgastrinae group and determines parasitism success. Pkfs are found in several entomopathogenic DNA virus families and in some lepidopteran genomes. We provide evidence of equivalent and specific toxicity against endoparasites for PKFs found in entomopoxvirus, ascovirus, baculovirus, and Lepidoptera through a mechanism that elicits apoptosis in the cells of susceptible parasitoids. This highlights the evolutionary arms race between parasitoids, viruses, and their insect hosts.

This is easily understood as the product of an evolutionary process over time, with horizontal gene transfer from the virus to its former host at some point in the past; a process that anyone familiar with endogenous retroviruses will be familiar. The evolution of the toxin in the virus is the logical outcome of an evolutionary process itself, where it resulted in more virus particles if the virus could kill a parasite that would otherwise kill its host. A virus which is dependent on a particular host and the host itself, both share the same need to survive an attack by another parasite, so both have the same evolutionary selection pressure to evolve a defence mechanism. In this case, that was provided by the virus and the relationship between the virus and the host, as is so often the case, became more co-symbiont than host-parasite. The ability of some viruses to incorporate themselves into the genome of their host did the rest.

To a Creationist, however, with their belief in a single intelligent [sic] designer being responsible for all this biodiversity, by design, not by the operation of natural selection on random genetic variance, what do we have?

We have a parasite/host relationship in the first instance, where one of its creations (the moth) is seen as a resource to be exploited and killed by an endoparasitic wasp. We also have a virus designed to infect the caterpillars of these moths, also seeing them as a resource to be exploited or a niche to be occupied. However, the parasitoid wasp, designed to lay its eggs in the living bodies of the caterpillars, became a deadly rival of the parasitic virus. So, treating that as a threat to its design for the endoparasitic wasp, this resulted in a competition between the wasp and the virus for which the designer designed the 'parasitoid killing factor' (PKF) as part of the virus genome, but used by the caterpillars' protein synthesising mechanism to manufacture the PKF by inserting the virus genome into that of the moths.

In other words, having designed a parasitoid wasp to kill its moth creations, it then designed a virus to do the same. Then, realising that the parasitoid wasp it had designed, was a threat to the virus, it gave the virus the ability to kill the wasp, and so, accidentally, stopped the wasp from killing the moth caterpillars. So pleased was it with this solution to the problem it created earlier, it then gave the moth the ability to kill the wasp grubs without the need for the virus!

Then, for some parasitoid wasps, but not all, it gave them the ability to resist the PKF it gave the moth to kill them with!

Creationists hold that this ludicrously complex solution to a problem of its own creation, and the ability to resist it, is a sign of high intelligence and a supreme ability to design. This probably tells us more about the intellectual abilities of Creationists than they would wish us to know. As always, though, they would prefer people to view their putative designer god as a malevolence who wants its designs to suffer, and an incompetent designer who doesn't know what it is doing and constantly designs 'solutions' which then become problems for it to design new solutions to; an incompetent designer without an ultimate plan who just blunders along blindly, not knowing what it is creating or what it will do until it becomes another problem to be solved.

Bizarrely, Creationists think blaming all this on a legendary ancestral couple who once scrumped an apple, from a story in a book of Bronze Age mythology, written by people who thought Earth was flat, with a dome over it to keep the water out, is a sane and scientific explanation for what we can observe!

The TOE, on the other hand, explains and predicts just these sorts of outcomes from an unguided, utilitarian process which blindly 'designs' living organisms, driven only by the natural forces of selection from natural variances in a competitive environment. Creationists however, prefer the malevolent incompetence view rather than accept that mindless natural forces can result in the superficial appearance of design with no magic involved anywhere and no place for a magician in the explanation; a 'design' which doesn't stand up to scrutiny as the result of intelligence when looked at in detail.

Note too how the authors of this study, like just about every other biomedical scientist, are in no doubt at all that the explanation for this phenomenon is to be found in the science of evolutionary biology, in contrast to the laughable claims by Creationist frauds with political agenda that the Theory of Evolution is a theory in crisis, about to be overthrown by the supernatural explanation of Intelligent [sic] Design, which is almost universally derided in scientific circles and which, as we can see in this study, is refuted time and again by science without the scientists even trying.

Thank you for sharing!

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