|The DNA molecule is NOT alive.|
People have a difficult time wondering about how machines could evolve.
Which is not logical because machines are not as complex as organic life forms are.
If evolution proceeds from non-life to life, from simple to complex, then it should be obvious that machines composed of atomic parts, which later became molecules, would have to evolve first.
Those controversial issues have been discussed in the previous posts in this series as well as the following complimentary series (The Uncertain Gene, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) and (Putting A Face On Machine Mutation, 2, 3, 4).
Those issues were also writ large in the posts (The New Paradigm: The Physical Universe Is Mostly Machine, Autopoiesis: It's Not Just For Machines Anymore).
With that background in mind, let's consider a recent paper:
The MSU-led research provides the first detailed blueprint of a multi-subunit "molecular machinery" that bacteria use to detect and destroy invading viruses.(Molecular Machine Dynamics Identified, emphasis added). In other words, this is not science fiction, rather, it is applied science now.
"We generally think of bacteria as making us sick, but rarely do we consider what happens when the bacteria themselves get sick. Viruses that infect bacteria are the most abundant biological agents on the planet, outnumbering their bacterial hosts 10 to 1," said Blake Wiedenheft, senior author of the paper and assistant professor in MSU's Department of Microbiology and Immunology.
"Bacteria have evolved sophisticated immune systems to fend off viruses. We now have a precise molecular blueprint of a surveillance machine that is critical for viral defense," Wiedenheft said.
Abiotic Came 1st
"This surveillance machine consists of 12 different parts and each part of the machine has a distinct job. If we're missing one part of the machine, it doesn't work."
Understanding how these machines work is leading to unanticipated new innovations in medicine and biotechnology and agriculture. These CRISPR-associated machines are programmable nucleases (molecular scissors) that are now being exploited for precisely altering the DNA sequence of almost any cell type of interest.
"In nature, these immune systems evolved to protect bacteria from viruses, but we are now repurposing these systems to cut viral DNA out of human cells infected with HIV. You can think of this as a form of DNA surgery. Therapies that were unimaginable may be possible in the future," Wiedenheft said.
The microbial world has molecular machine tools at its disposal which are used to do phenomenal brain surgery:
"... this is a protozoan parasite that knows more about the neurobiology of anxiety and fear than 25,000 neuroscientists standing on each other's shoulders ..."(Hypothesis: Microbes Generate Toxins of Power - 6, quoting Dr. Sapolsky). In future posts we will look at genetic tools of viruses.
The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.