I. Virus Breaking News
In years past, perhaps even a decade of years, I have meandered through the world of what "science" makes of the enigmatic virus world.
Just yesterday, after pondering a very informative blog about Covid-19, I was surprised when a young scientist ended his post with "Science will save our species" (Tim James Science Dot Com).
Which brought up the question in my mind for about an instant: "which came first 'science' or the virgin species (The Virgin MOMCOM - 2)?"
Meanwhile, as other specialists attempt to discern the origin of the virus involved in the current pandemic (Covid-19 Nature) the U.S. Military is no doubt wondering about it too:
"The captain of a US aircraft carrier, with 5,000 people onboard, including an unconfirmed number who have tested positive for Covid-19, has called for help to save the lives of his sailors.(US sailors will die unless coronavirus-hit aircraft carrier evacuated, captain warns, emphasis added). They were out at sea isolated from crowds over two weeks, yet the virus emerged:
The US aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt was in the Pacific when the navy reported its first coronavirus case a week ago. It has since pulled into port in Guam, a US island territory in the western Pacific.
A four-page letter, written by the ship’s captain, describes a bleak situation onboard the nuclear-powered carrier as more sailors test positive for the virus.
Captain Brett Crozier, the ship’s commanding officer, wrote that the carrier lacked enough quarantine and isolation facilities and warned the current strategy would slow but fail to eradicate the highly contagious respiratory virus."
"The ship was last in port in Vietnam more than two weeks ago. It is not clear where the sailors initially contracted the virus. The Navy is now in the process of flying all personnel off the ship."(CNN, emphasis added). This begs the question as to whether or not a 14 day self quarantine or mandatory 14 day quarantine is sufficient ... and whether or not the virus simply emerges when certain conditions develop in humans or animals.
II. But ... but ... Microbes
Starting out the trek to the origin of viruses, or outbreaks thereof, without contemplating microbes is putting the cart before the horse:
"... some 90 percent of the protein-encoding cells in our body are microbes ... 99 percent of the functional genes in the body are microbial ... exchanging messages with genes inside human cells ... microbes cohabitating our body outnumber human cells by a factor of 10, making us actually “superorganisms” that use our own genetic repertoire as well as those of our microbial symbionts ... We just happen to look human because our human cells are much larger than bacterial cells ... no matter how you look at it, it’s high time we acknowledge that part of being human is being microbial ...(If Cosmology Is "Off," How Can Biology Be "On?", emphasis added). So why microbes ... when the news is virus ... Virus ... VIRUS?
Microbes may indeed be subtly changing our brain early on — and for what purposes we cannot yet say ... the mere fact that microorganisms can shape our minds brings up many more questions about how humans develop their identity ... these findings call for a complete re-examination of human physiology and immunology. Attributes that were assumed to be human traits have been shown to result from human–microbe interactions.
Some would say that genomics has been able to distil some humility into humankind. The finalised version of the human genome deprived us of the illusion that we are one of the most complex creatures on Earth — an illusion that was at the basis of some guesses that Homo sapiens was expected to have at least 100,000 genes. When we look at a table of genomes by species, and specifically at the number of genes that have been counted or estimated for each species, we notice that humans are surpassed by several plants and invertebrates."
Good question, good answer:
"There are an estimated 1031 viruses on Earth. That is to say: there may be a hundred million times more viruses on Earth than there are stars in the universe. THE MAJORITY OF THESE VIRUSES INFECT [an "infectious laugh" or "infectious enthusiasm"] MICROBES, including bacteria, archaea, and microeukaryotes, all of which are vital players in the global fixation and cycling of key elements such as carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. These two facts combined—the sheer number of viruses and their intimate relationship with microbial life—suggest that viruses, too, play a critical role in the planet’s biosphere."(On The Origin of the Genes of Viruses, emphasis added). You and I grew up in the era of war on viruses ("this is war"), which is an infectious war.
Even today already I heard in the virus news for the umpteenth time "this is war".
The warmonger division of "Big Pharma" has conducted a war against viruses seemingly for eons while profiteering mightily, in the same fashion that our regular war managers have conducted wars against anything that moves (On The Origin of The Bully Religion - 2).
Our managers evidently consider war science to be a fundamental need, and they take all the time necessary to indoctrinate us accordingly:
"Ok, so now it is probably a safe time to pull back the curtain to reveal the wizard of odds, the father of MOMCOM DNA:(A Closer Look At MOMCOM's DNA - 4, [emphasis added]). Ok, so let's put two and two together.
THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.(Propaganda, by Edward L. Bernays, emphasis added). Old Fast Eddie totally believed in propaganda, and was not all "don't ask don't tell" in the closet about it [he urged his client The War Department to change its name to The Defense Department].
Edward L. Bernays
Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.
They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons — a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty [now 320] million — who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.
It is the purpose of this book to explain the structure of the mechanism which controls the public mind, and to tell how it is manipulated by the special pleader who seeks to create public acceptance for a particular idea or commodity. It will attempt at the same time to find the due place in the modern democratic scheme for this new propaganda and to suggest its gradually evolving code of ethics and practice."
He is, therefore, "affectionately" called The Father of Spin, for which his grand ole daughter MOMCOM is so proud, even causing many heads to spin with pride."
III. The Mother of Virus Outbreaks - Antibiotics?
In the world of history and herstory one subject, catastrophes, does stand out just as it does now ... here in the Anthropocene (nicknamed "the sixth mass extinction era").
"What of it?" you might ask, so, let's review this long quote (read between the lines):
(What Did The Mass Extinctions Do To Viruses and Microbes?). That was a record breaking long quote.
Wikipedia describes these events: "An extinction event (also known as a mass extinction or biotic crisis) is a widespread and rapid decrease in the amount of life on Earth. Such an event is identified by a sharp change in the diversity and abundance of macroscopic life. It occurs when the rate of extinction increases with respect to the rate of speciation. Because the majority of diversity and biomass on Earth is microbial, and thus difficult to measure, recorded extinction events affect the easily observed, biologically complex component of the biosphere rather than the total diversity and abundance of life" (Extinction event).
Notice that "macroscopic life" is used as the measuring stick, because "microscopic life" (virus, microbe) is not found easily, if at all, in the fossil record.
Our science tells us that viruses and microbes lived through all of these mass extinctions (Viroids: Survivors from the RNA World?).
However, we are not told what affects the mass extinctions had on them.
Probably because it has not yet been sufficiently considered.
We are only recently discovering much about what the Wikipedia article above mentioned:
"... the majority of diversity and biomass on Earth is microbial, and thus difficult to measure, recorded extinction events affect the easily observed, biologically complex component of the biosphere rather than the total diversity and abundance of life ..."(ibid, "Extinction Event"). If you read that closely our science considers extinction events in the context of the few species that are large enough to leave a trail we can follow easily, but does not consider the affects mass extinctions have had on by far the most abundant species: viruses and microbes.
Regular readers know that Dredd Blog has contemplated the impact of mass extinctions on microbes and viruses:
Recently, scientists discovered that even humans and microbes are symbionts, and in fact humans can not reproduce without them.(Are Microbes The Origin of PTSD?). When 50% to 90% of the creatures that microbes and viruses interacted with suffered apocalyptic death, there was no doubt some form of stress.
One can surmise that the K-T boundary extinction event was globally traumatic, since ~90% of land species, including dinosaurs, bit the extinction dust, as did perhaps ~50% of ocean species.
How did the remaining microbes react?
Since the utter destruction and catastrophe caused by the K-T boundary extinction was globally extreme, the microbes that survived would have been extremist types for the most part, otherwise they would have been unable to exist in those new extreme conditions.
The subsequent extreme events of taking over control of mammalian female placenta, establishing a virgin species, or perhaps engendering the adaptability of newts, may have been microbial reactions to the extreme trauma of the K-T boundary extinction event.
The spurious activity caused by any such trauma may explain why not all mammals, for example the rabbit, need those microbes to reproduce.
Evidence, in the form of the oldest rabbit fossil yet found, shows that it originated after the time of the K-T extinction event.
The rabbit, and species close to it, are not like other mammals such as the gorilla, monkey, orangutan, or human, which must have microbe (viral) help in order to reproduce via a functional placenta.
We know that microbial life has flip-flopped from time to time, from pathogen to mutualist, which is in accord with life changing stressful events:
Like pretty much all multi-cellular organisms, humans enjoy the benefits of helpful bacteria. (As you may have heard, there are more bacteria in the human body than cells.) These mutualistic microbes live within the body of a larger organism, and, like any good long-term house guest, help out their hosts, while making a successful life for themselves. It’s a win-win situation for both parties.(Communicating With The Underworld). Humans are the same way, in the sense that they will become cannibals or worse in some stressful situations:
Scientists still don’t understand exactly how these relationships began, however. To find out, a team of researchers from the University of California, Riverside, used protein markers to create a detailed phylogenic tree of life for 405 taxa from the Proteobacteria phylum—a diverse group that includes pathogens such as salmonella as well as both mutualistic and free-living species.
Those analyses revealed that mutualism in Proteobacteria independently evolved between 34 to 39 times, the researchers report in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The team was a bit surprised to find that this happened so frequently, inferring that evolution apparently views this lifestyle quite favorably.
Their results also show that mutualism most often arises in species that were originally parasites and pathogens.
Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, also known as the Andes flight disaster and, in South America, as the Miracle of the Andes (El Milagro de los Andes) was a chartered flight carrying 45 people, including a rugby union team, their friends, family and associates, that crashed in the Andes on 13 October 1972. More than a quarter of the passengers died in the crash and several others quickly succumbed to cold and injury. Of the 27 who were alive a few days after the accident, another eight were killed by an avalanche that swept over their shelter in the wreckage. The last 16 survivors were rescued on 23 December 1972, more than two months after the crash.(Wikipedia, emphasis added). Like humans who are intelligent, viruses and microbes also exhibit a form of intelligence (The Intelligence of the Virus realm, The Intelligence of Plants).
The survivors had little food and no source of heat in the harsh conditions at over 3,600 metres (11,800 ft) altitude. Faced with starvation and radio news reports that the search for them had been abandoned, the survivors fed on the dead passengers who had been preserved in the snow.
Some of the microbes have been buried in sediments during these mass extinction events, and are still alive and "doing their thing":
The explanation is that deep life is able to proceed in extreme slow motion. This was illustrated by Price and Sowers (5), who compiled data from a wide range of environments. A typical metabolic rate of microorganisms in ecosystems on the surface of our planet, such as soil, lake water, or seawater, is 0.1 to 10 fmol C⋅cell−1⋅d−1, corresponding to 10−3 to 10−1 g C metabolized per gram cell C per hour (Fig. 1). The mean metabolic rate for deep subsurface bacteria is typically four orders of magnitude lower: 10−5 to 10−3 fmol C⋅cell−1⋅d−1 (6, 7), corresponding to 10−7 to 10−5 g C⋅g−1 cell C⋅h−1. Such numbers are calculated by counting all the microorganisms in a deep sediment core and dividing by the rate at which the main metabolic substrates or products are turning over in the bulk sediment. The process rates are determined from transport-reaction models of pore-water constituents or from direct experimental process measurements using sensitive radiotracer methods. The rationale for taking a mean of the entire microbial community is the assumption that most of the cells are actively engaged in the energy metabolism. This assumption is now strongly supported by the findings of Morono et al. (3).(Deep Subseafloor Microbial Cells on Physiological Standby; cf Carbon & Nitrogen Assimilation in Deep Subseafloor Microbes). They know or detect that something happened to bury them, so, they do what they can to survive ... they wait or adapt ... in very, very slow motion.
Perhaps those of their kind who survived the mass extinctions on the surface "know" that human civilization has now evolved, and that humanity is afraid of them --and humans are therefore making war on them?
Perhaps that human policy will have worse consequences than diplomacy would have (On the Origin of the Genes of Viruses - 11, The Intelligence of the Virus realm, The Intelligence of Plants).
Could it be that there are 40 trillion of the most populous and most experienced living things on this planet yelling "nuke 'em" -- like a few hundred of the tiny population of humans are?
Let's be mutualistic rather than pathogenic.
So, what happens when antibiotic addiction takes hold?
IV. Closing Comments
Two things take place.
1) The targets of the war on microbes can and do become immune to the drugs used in the drug war:
In the words of England’s chief medical officer, Sally Davies: “The world is facing an antibiotic apocalypse.” Unless action is taken to halt the practices that have allowed antimicrobial resistance to spread and ways are found to develop new types of antibiotics, we could return to the days when routine operations, simple wounds or straightforward infections could pose real threats to life, she warns.(Antibiotic apocalypse’: doctors sound alarm over drug resistance); and
That terrifying prospect will be the focus of a major international conference to be held in Berlin this week. Organised by the UK government, the Wellcome Trust, the UN and several other national governments, the meeting will be attended by scientists, health officers, pharmaceutical chiefs and politicians. Its task is to try to accelerate measures to halt the spread of drug resistance, which now threatens to remove many of the major weapons currently deployed by doctors in their war against disease.
2) An astronomical number of viruses ... viruses that were symbiotic to their microbe hosts ... hosts that were killed by the antibiotics, become homeless and desperately look for another home (viruses are not killed by antibiotics).
And we all know what hell it is to be homeless in today's world ... for pets, for humans, and for viruses.
That is why we seriously need to ponder whether or not we are producing an inordinate number of homeless viruses that may become psychotic and do things to their new unwitting hosts.
The previous post in this series is here.
How Microbes Communicate In The Tiniest Language: