Trading Genes

A Bdelloid rotiferBdelloid rotifers are amazing animals. They are capable of withstanding harsh conditions – including radiation exposure – and they also reproduce asexually, having apparently lost their ability to use sexual reproduction millions of years ago. This is, in fact, a bit of a contradiction. Sexually reproducing animals appear to have and edge over those that do not, being at least theoretically better able to adapt and withstand environmental pressures. A recent paper in PLoS Genetics looked at horizontal gene transfer (HGT) – the same mechanism used by bacteria and archea to transfer genetic material with a similar effect to sexual reproduction – in the Bdelloid species Adineta ricciae. They discovered that an abnormally large percentage of A ricciae sequences seemed to have been acquired from non metazoan (that is, non animalian) organisms, even when compared to HGT levels in other, non Bdelloid rotifers. They hypothesise that this may be the cause of the Bdelloid’s resilience in the face of their disability. Jeffrey Tomkins writes, in the first DpSU of the month, Are Rotifers Gene Stealers or Uniquely Engineered?

The tools of DNA sequencing are becoming cheaper to use and more productive than ever, and the deluge of DNA comparison results between organisms coming forth are becoming a quagmire for the evolutionary paradigm. To prop it up, biologists resort to ever more absurd explanations for discrepancies. A prime example of this trickery is in a recent DNA sequencing project performed in a microscopic aquatic multi-cellular animal called a rotifer.

Given that the ICR has in the past tried to explain away viruses as originally being a mechanism to transfer genetic material between organisms I don’t know where Tomkins got the idea that he could cast the first stone here – HGT is a perfectly reasonable concept to invoke given the evidence, the viruses less so. Continue reading

Acts & Facts – November 2012

I think that will do for this month’s edition. It’s already well into December so the usual ICR Acts & Facts page has switched to the next month, but a pdf can be found here and the links are all below anyway. I haven’t already written as much on these articles as I have in past months, so there’s a fair bit here that you haven’t seen before (or at least recently). Note also that November was also the month of the US holiday of ‘Thanksgiving,’ something which I ignored entirely, so expect a lot of articles on that. Continue reading