Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Uncertain Gene - 6

In this series, so far, we have been discussing issues which many of us may not see as relevant or in any way related to our personal lives.

So what if protons behave like waves to thereby do quantum tunneling which can cause mutations within some of our genome, and so what if microbes can also be impacted by proton tunneling induced mutation, to then later transfer some of their mutant genes into our human genome?

The reason is not only that it could be affecting us personally, but that it could also be affecting our entire species:
The human genome has been busy over the past 5,000 years. Human populations have grown exponentially, and new genetic mutations arise with each generation. Humans now have a vast abundance of rare genetic variants in the protein-encoding sections of the genome.
A team of scientists from the University of Maryland School of Medicine has found the strongest evidence yet that bacteria occasionally transfer their genes into human genomes, finding bacterial DNA sequences in about a third of healthy human genomes.
The trillions of bacteria in our bodies regularly exchange DNA with each other, but the idea that their genes could end up in human DNA has been very controversial.
Although her team has since found several cases of LGT [lateral gene transfer] between bacteria and invertebrates, “it’s still difficult to convince people that it may be happening in the human genome,” she said.
Danchin agrees that the results need to be validated but said, “I am personally convinced what they have found by screening the different databases is true. I think LGT happens much more frequently than we imagine but, most of the time, is just not detectable.”
(The "It's In Your Genes" Myth - 2, emphasis added). Concerning those potential or actual genetic changes taking place, some of them are mysterious:
The American population has experienced remarkable change in cranial morphology. Some of these have already been documented, but this paper expands on previous results by increasing the time frame, sample sizes and attempting to identify points in time when change begins, or proceeds most rapidly, which in turn may provide clues to reasons for the changes.
(The Skulls They Are A Changin'). This is especially interesting since microbiologists tell us that microbes may play a part in the development of our brains:
A recent paper by investigators from Sweden and Singapore reports on studies using a mouse model to demonstrate that the presence of the gut microbiota significantly influences the developing brain, influencing developmental pathways that affect both motor control and anxiety-related behaviors. The implications for human development are certainly not yet realized, but could be profound. Our anxiety, motor control, and even cognitive pathways are implicated in this paper. Microbes may indeed be subtly changing our brain early on — and for what purposes we cannot yet say. The article would imply that this interaction is beneficial to us, and thus indirectly to our microbiota, but the mere fact that microorganisms can shape our minds brings up many more questions about how humans develop their identity.
(A Structure RE: The Corruption of Memes - 4). Scientists who are looking at this data consider it worthy of more study:
The fact that microbes in our gut can have any effect on our brains surely gets our attention. That they may fundamentally change our brains as we develop is breathtaking indeed. Our symbiotic friends may be more connected to us than we know, and only a complete appreciation of their power will allow us to treat that relationship with the caution and respect it deserves.
(Small Things Considered, emphasis added). Add to that the evidence that microbes also interact with other species on our planet, and the importance of improving our understanding becomes more clear:
"Interactions of animals with their microbiota have a profound impact on their gene expression, and to create a stable association with a microorganism requires a lot of conversation between the microbe and the host," says UW-Madison medical microbiologist Margaret McFall-Ngai, senior author of the new study.
(Symbiotic Microbes Induce Profound Genetic Changes, emphasis added). We can see at once, then, that the pollution we are doing to our environment is a clear and present danger to our genetic makeup, because that pollution is also causing damage to the microbial world.

Human government may be impacted by some or all of these genetic dynamics too (The Germ Theory - of Government - 7).

Microbes have many other important functions that we are just recently becoming aware of:
A team of University of Toronto chemists have made a major contribution to the emerging field of quantum biology, observing quantum mechanics at work in photosynthesis in marine algae.

"There's been a lot of excitement and speculation that nature may be using quantum mechanical practices," says chemistry professor Greg Scholes, lead author of a new study published in Nature. "Our latest experiments show that normally functioning biological systems have the capacity to use quantum mechanics in order to optimize a process as essential to their survival as photosynthesis." ... It also raises some other potentially fascinating questions, such as, have these organisms developed quantum-mechanical strategies for light-harvesting to gain an evolutionary advantage? It suggests that algae knew about quantum mechanics nearly two billion years before humans," says Scholes.
(The Tiniest Scientists Are Very Old, emphasis added). The plague of human pollution wrecking the planet may "come home to roost" in our genome, and that may be very bad for our species.

Resist Oil-Qaeda, and advocate for clean energy.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

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