Monday, May 12, 2014

On the Origin of the Genes of Viruses - 9

At various times in this series the notion of "a different genetics" and a "genetics prior to carbon based life forms" has been discussed.

The notion is that pre-RNA and pre-DNA genetics had a different set of molecules, genes, nucleotides,  and the like, prior to the evolution of carbon based life.

Central to that hypothesis is the notion that viruses evolved before single cell microbes did, and that those viruses did not have the RNA or DNA which current viruses and single celled microbes now have.

A recent paper exclaims that not only is this possible, but "we did it!"

It goes like this:
For billions of years, the history of life has been written with just four letters — A, T, C and G, the labels given to the DNA subunits contained in all organisms. That alphabet has just grown longer, researchers announce, with the creation of a living cell that has two 'foreign' DNA building blocks in its genome.
(Journal Nature, First life with alien DNA). The gist of it is that the molecules associated with the only DNA construct we knew of (AT, CG) has been modified.

Cells, in lab experiments, were able to genetically replicate additional, and heretofore unheard of and unknown human-made molecular constructs added to modern DNA.

Thus, we cannot say with scientific certainty that there were no strange combinations of genes that were unlike, in whole or in part, modern ATCG configurations prior to the evolution of carbon based life forms (Origin and Evolution of the Ribosome).

Alien genes (by modern standards) that were replicated by "robosomes," the precursors to ribosomes, long before ATCG constructs evolved, are not improbable (On the Origin of the Genes of Viruses - 4).

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

Dirty Paws, by Of Monsters and Men


  1. Thanks for educating me about this issue (that I posted over on NBL). Is this on the same playing field (and fraught with the same "cross contamination" issues) as GM products like corn?


    1. It concerns me because these discoveries catch the eye of military madmen who always want a bigger more destructive weapon with which to destroy us in order to save us.

  2. I've said that about most of the math and science "discovered" by humanity - it's all co-opted by the military/corporate sector for their own use (as weapons or profit centers) and rarely is used for the good of everyone (the unstated goals of science and math).


  3. This virus-first hypothesis (viruses or proto-viruses evolved before prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells did) is not mainstream science, but is growing in strength.

    One of the problems with expanding upon mainstream theory is that it is built backwards from "now" ... meandering back through historical epochs of time ... looking for discoveries ... without understanding the now well enough.

    Viruses and microbes have been considered enemies even though a low percentage of them are pathogenic, that is, even though most are beneficial.

    The war on the unseen world is just another war on ourselves because we depend on the microbial world for our survival, including the virus realm.

    Only in the last few years have we grasped that our understanding of that realm is extremely underdeveloped.

    Our theories of the evolutionary past were developed while looking back in time with a defective lens.

    So some basic ideas have not been fully thought out.

    So, I try to shake it up so people will think about the state of our understanding and eventually be able to tie the disciplines together with improved coherency.

    I can't do it myself, but I can generate questions and arguments that will grab the attention of researchers so they can use their abilities to refine the science.

    Refine the science to help humanity and civilization rather than continuing to do harm with ecocidal pollution.