ElShamah - Reason & Science: Defending ID and the Christian Worldview
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ElShamah - Reason & Science: Defending ID and the Christian Worldview

Otangelo Grasso: This is my personal virtual library, where i collect information, which leads in my view to the Christian faith, creationism, and Intelligent Design as the best explanation of the origin of the physical Universe, life, biodiversity

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Evolution: Common descent, the tree of life, a failed hypothesis

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41. Protein Functional Redundancy: Multiple proteins with similar functions

1. Distinct Functional Redundancies (Point 1): Different domains of life often demonstrate separate sets of functionally redundant proteins. If they were from a common origin, one would anticipate a more unified set of redundant proteins across all domains.
2. Unique Redundant Systems (Point 2): Each of the three domains of life - Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukaryota - have unique redundant systems in place. These distinct systems, rather than mere variations, are so fundamentally different in structure and function that they support the idea of separate origins.
3. Absence of Conserved Redundancy (Point 3): If all domains of life shared a common origin, we'd anticipate seeing a conserved mechanism of redundancy throughout. However, the lack of such a conserved redundancy mechanism indicates separate origins.
4. Diverse Pathways for Similar Functions (Point 4): Many proteins, although functionally redundant across different domains, are derived from entirely different biochemical pathways. These diverse pathways for similar end functions are evidence of separate origins rather than shared ancestry.
5. Separate Protein Families with Redundant Functions (Point 5): Within each domain, there are separate protein families performing similar functions. The existence of these separate families, rather than a shared protein family across all domains, implies separate origins.
6. Unpredictable Functional Overlaps (Point 6): The unpredictable nature of which proteins within a domain may have overlapping functions further supports the idea of separate origins. If all domains emerged from a shared ancestor, we'd expect more predictability in functional overlaps.
7. Domain-Specific Redundancy Regulation (Point 7): The mechanisms that regulate protein redundancy are domain-specific. Each domain has its own set of regulators that manage functional redundancies, supporting the idea of separate creation events.

1. Pál, C., Papp, B., & Lercher, M. J. (2006). An integrated view of protein evolution. Nature Reviews Genetics, 7(5), 337-348. Link. (This paper delves into protein evolution, including aspects of redundancy and how they play into the evolutionary process.)
2. Wagner, A. (2008). Neutralism and selectionism: a network-based reconciliation. Nature Reviews Genetics, 9(12), 965-974. Link. (This study explores the role of network-based approaches in understanding neutral mutations and functional redundancies.)
3. De Smet, R., & Van de Peer, Y. (2012). Redundancy and rewiring of genetic networks following genome-wide duplication events. Current Opinion in Plant Biology, 15(2), 168-176. Link. (This article reviews how genetic networks evolve post genome-wide duplication events, emphasizing on redundancy.)
4. Teichmann, S. A., & Babu, M. M. (2004). Gene regulatory network growth by duplication. Nature Genetics, 36(5), 492-496. Link. (This paper discusses the growth of gene regulatory networks and the role of duplication, providing insights into the emergence of redundant systems.)
5. Copley, S. D. (2014). An evolutionary biochemist's perspective on promiscuity. Trends in Biochemical Sciences, 39(4), 189-190. Link. (This research discusses the biochemistry of enzyme promiscuity, which can be linked to functional redundancy.)

42. Protein Transport Mechanism Variations: Differences in how proteins are transported within cells

1. Distinct Transport Systems (Point 1): Eukaryotes, bacteria, and archaea use fundamentally different transport systems. Eukaryotes utilize complex endomembrane systems, including the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus, to modify, sort, and transport proteins. Bacteria and archaea, lacking these organelles, use simpler mechanisms, relying mainly on transmembrane transport.
2. Signal Peptides and Protein Targeting (Point 2): The presence and function of signal peptides in proteins, which determine their cellular destinations, differ significantly across domains. Eukaryotic signal peptides typically target proteins to the endoplembrane system, while bacterial and archaeal peptides direct proteins to the plasma membrane.
3. Vesicular vs. Non-vesicular Transport (Point 3): Eukaryotes are characterized by vesicular transport, involving vesicles that bud off from one membrane and fuse with another. Bacteria and archaea, by contrast, do not rely on vesicles for protein transport.
4. Presence of Unique Transporters (Point 4): Certain transporters are unique to each domain. For instance, Sec and Tat pathways are prevalent in both bacteria and archaea for protein secretion, but their functional and structural attributes are domain-specific.
5. Compartmentalization in Eukaryotes (Point 5): Eukaryotic cells have a unique challenge due to their compartmentalization. This requires specialized transport mechanisms, such as nuclear import/export systems, not found in bacteria or archaea.
6. Post-translational Modifications (Point 6): The kind and the process of post-translational modifications, which can affect protein transport, vary across domains. Glycosylation patterns, for instance, are markedly different in eukaryotes compared to bacteria and archaea.
7. Different Energy Dependencies (Point 7): Protein transport across membranes requires energy. The source and mode of this energy differ, with eukaryotes often using ATP directly, while bacteria and archaea may rely on proton or sodium gradients.
8. Sec61 vs. SecYEG Complexes (Point 8 ): The central channel for protein translocation in eukaryotes is the Sec61 complex, whereas bacteria and archaea use the homologous but distinct SecYEG complex.

1. Driessen, A.J.M., & Nouwen, N. (2008). Protein translocation across the bacterial cytoplasmic membrane. Annual Review of Biochemistry, 77, 643-667. Link. (This review provides an extensive discussion of protein transport mechanisms, specifically in bacteria.)
2. Rapoport, T.A. (2007). Protein translocation across the eukaryotic endoplasmic reticulum and bacterial plasma membranes. Nature, 450, 663–669. Link. (This article compares protein translocation systems in eukaryotes and bacteria, highlighting fundamental differences.)
3. Ellen, A.F., et al. (2010). Proteomic analysis of secreted membrane vesicles of archaeal Sulfolobus species reveals the presence of endosome sorting complex components. Extremophiles, 14(3), 285-294. Link. (The study analyzes secreted membrane vesicles in archaea, providing insights into unique transport mechanisms.)
4. Zwiebel, L.J., & Adelman, J. (2002). Receptors and odorants: the molecular basis of insect olfaction. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 32(3), 335-341. Link. (While focused on insect olfaction, this paper touches on protein transport mechanisms in a specific eukaryotic context.)
5. Tsirigos, K.D., et al. (2015). The TOPCONS web server for consensus prediction of membrane protein topology and signal peptides. Nucleic Acids Research, 43(W1), W401–W407. Link. (This tool provides prediction capabilities for membrane protein topology, relevant to the topic of signal peptides and protein targeting.)
6. Parodi, A.J. (2000). Protein glucosylation and its role in protein folding. Annual Review of Biochemistry, 69(1), 69-93. Link. (This article sheds light on post-translational modifications, specifically glucosylation, in protein transport.)
7. Johnson, A.E., & van Waes, M.A. (1999). The translocon: a dynamic gateway at the ER membrane. Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology, 15(1), 799-842. Link. (This review covers the translocon in eukaryotes, a critical component in protein transport.)

43. Ribosome and its Biogenesis Disparities: Differences in ribosome formation

I. Ebersberger (2014): Although we could identify E. coli counterparts with comparable biochemical activity for 12 yeast ribosome biogenesis factors (RBFs), only 2 are known to participate in bacterial ribosome assembly. This indicates that the recruitment of individual proteins to this pathway has been largely independent in the bacterial and eukaryotic lineages. The bacterial version of a universal ribosomal protein tends to be remarkably different from its archaeal equivalent, the same being true, even more dramatically, for the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases. In both cases, in a sequence alignment, a position constant in composition in the Bacteria tends to be so in its archaeal homolog as well, but the archaeal and bacterial compositions for that position often differ from each other. Moreover, among the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases, a total lack of homology between large (and characteristic) sections of the bacterial version of a molecule and its archaeal counterpart is common. 6

Sergey Melnikov ( 2018): Ribosomes are present in every living cell, but their structures are astonishingly distinct in different species. Even relatively simple ribosomes from bacterial species, whose molecular weights vary around 2.4 MDa, carry ∼0.7 MDa of unique RNA and protein moieties, which are missing in eukaryotic ribosomes. Remarkably, these species-specific moieties decorate every functional center of the ribosome, including the peptidyl-transferase, the peptide exit tunnel, the messenger RNA (mRNA) channel, the decoding site, and the binding sites of translation factors and regulatory proteins 7

Comment: The core ribosomal proteins, those that exhibit structural consistency, collectively span approximately 3,000 amino acid residues. However, alongside this core, certain protein segments encompassing around 2,200 residues are exclusive to bacteria and eukaryotic cells. Moreover, roughly 2,700 residues constitute protein segments unique to archaea or shared by archaea and eukaryotes, while an additional 1,100 residues form protein segments specific to eukaryotes. This observation underscores the remarkable structural divergence present among conserved ribosomal proteins within the three domains of life. Even in comparatively uncomplicated bacterial species, the quantity of residues within distinctive structural protein attributes is nearly equivalent to those within the conserved core. This phenomenon suggests a high degree of functional specialization for ribosomal proteins within each domain.
These distinctive structural elements manifest as protein segments, varying in length from a few to several dozen residues, frequently exposed on the protein's surface. The prevalence of these segments is such that almost every one of the 33 conserved ribosomal proteins carries at least one variable segment within each life domain. Among the larger ribosomal proteins, such as uL2, uL3, or uL4, multiple segments of dissimilar structure or occurrence are discernible across bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes. Interestingly, a common theme emerges in the structural variations of ribosomal proteins – these alterations predominantly arise in nonglobular protein extensions. Nonglobular protein extensions, also known as intrinsically disordered regions or intrinsically unstructured regions, are segments of proteins that lack a well-defined three-dimensional structure. Unlike the globular regions of proteins that typically fold into compact and stable structures, these nonglobular extensions remain unfolded or exhibit a flexible and dynamic structure.

In contrast, invariable segments commonly adopt a globular conformation. For example, protein uS14 features an unchanging globular domain – a 30-amino acid zinc finger motif – while its variable portions consist of elongated N- and C-terminal extensions with distinct folds in bacteria and eukaryotes. Comparable variations in protein extensions are prevalent in around two-thirds of the conserved ribosomal proteins. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that certain nonglobular extensions maintain invariant structures across all three life domains. These extensions are typically observed in the larger ribosomal proteins, such as uL2, uL3, uL4, uS12, and uS13, where they stabilize universally conserved rRNA junctions or facilitate vital interactions between ribosomes and their ligands. Despite this, even these proteins exhibit additional nonglobular extensions in archaeal and eukaryotic species. Consequently, ribosomal proteins generally undergo evolution that preserves the stability of their globular domains, while allowing nonglobular extensions to vary in size and tertiary structure across the three domains of life.

The presence of unique protein segments and extensive structural variability in ribosomal proteins across different domains of life is evidence for separate creation events, rather than a common evolutionary origin. The existence of distinct and specific protein segments in different domains of life is an indicator of separate creation events. If each domain possesses unique features that are not shared, it implies intentional design rather than an evolutionary lineage. The presence of these distinct features signifies that each domain was individually crafted with its own characteristics, reflecting purposeful design rather than a gradual evolutionary process. The extensive structural variability observed in ribosomal proteins across different domains is evidence for distinct creations.

H. Philippe (1999): Several composite universal trees connected by an ancestral gene duplication have been used to root the universal tree of life. In all cases, this root turned out to be in the eubacterial branch. However, the validity of results obtained from comparative sequence analysis has recently been questioned, in particular, in the case of ancient phylogenies. For example, it has been shown that several eukaryotic groups are misplaced in ribosomal RNA or elongation factor trees because of unequal rates of evolution and mutational saturation. Furthermore, the addition of new sequences to data sets has often turned apparently reasonable phylogenies into confused ones. We have thus revisited all composite protein trees that have been used to root the universal tree of life up to now (elongation factors, ATPases, tRNA synthetases, carbamoyl phosphate synthetases, signal recognition particle proteins) with updated data sets. In general, the two prokaryotic domains were not monophyletic with several aberrant groupings at different levels of the tree. Furthermore, the respective phylogenies contradicted each others, so that various ad hoc scenarios (paralogy or lateral gene transfer) must be proposed in order to obtain the traditional Archaebacteria–Eukaryota sisterhood. More importantly, all of the markers are heavily saturated with respect to amino acid substitutions. As phylogenies inferred from saturated data sets are extremely sensitive to differences in evolutionary rates, present phylogenies used to root the universal tree of life could be biased by the phenomenon of long branch attraction. Since the eubacterial branch was always the longest one, the eubacterial rooting could be explained by an attraction between this branch and the long branch of the outgroup. Finally, we suggested that an eukaryotic rooting could be a more fruitful working hypothesis, as it provides, for example, a simple explanation to the high genetic similarity of Archaebacteria and Eubacteria inferred from complete genome analysis. 

Comment: The establishment of a universal tree of life has been a journey marked by complexity and intricacies. Various attempts to root this tree by employing composite structures, connected through ancestral gene duplications, have predominantly led to a common point within the eubacterial realm. This finding, while consistent across multiple cases, has recently come under scrutiny, particularly when applied to ancient evolutionary relationships. Comparative sequence analysis, the cornerstone of these endeavors, has faced challenges, notably in the case of ancient phylogenies. The ever-changing pace of evolution and the saturation of mutations have caused distortions in our understanding. This has led to peculiar misplacements of certain eukaryotic groups in trees constructed from ribosomal RNA or elongation factor sequences. Even the addition of new sequences, ostensibly meant to refine our insights, has occasionally brought about bewildering outcomes. What once appeared to be reasonable and logical phylogenies have been thrown into confusion with the infusion of fresh data. As a result, a comprehensive reevaluation of all composite protein trees employed to root the universal tree of life has been undertaken, utilizing updated datasets. In a broader context, a pattern has emerged where the prokaryotic domains have not held onto their monophyletic status. Curious groupings have arisen at different levels of the evolutionary tree, subverting expectations. Additionally, the inherent contradiction among these distinct phylogenies has necessitated the introduction of ad hoc explanations – considerations like paralogy or lateral gene transfer – to salvage the conventional notion of the Archaebacteria-Eukaryota sisterhood. A pivotal revelation has emerged during this process – the markers used in constructing these phylogenetic relationships have reached a state of saturation regarding amino acid substitutions. This saturation complicates matters significantly, as phylogenies derived from saturated data sets are exquisitely sensitive to variations in evolutionary rates. This phenomenon has raised the specter of long-branch attraction, potentially skewing our inferences. Given that the eubacterial branch consistently emerges as the longest, its rooting might be influenced by an attraction between this branch and the extensive outgroup branch. Amidst this intricate landscape, an alternative hypothesis has been posited: an eukaryotic rooting. This approach not only offers a fresh angle but also yields insights into the uncanny genetic similarity observed between Archaebacteria and Eubacteria in complete genome analyses.

1. Ribosomal RNA Discrepancies (Point 1): The significant differences in the sizes, sequences, and secondary structures of ribosomal RNAs (rRNAs) across bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes are indicative of distinct ribosome formation processes. These differences are not easily bridged by gradual steps, suggesting separate origins.
2. Diversity in Ribosomal Proteins (Point 2): Bacterial, archaeal, and eukaryotic ribosomes possess unique sets of ribosomal proteins. Some of these proteins are specific to one domain and are not found in the others, supporting the concept of independent origins for each domain's ribosome machinery.
3. Distinct Ribosome Assembly Pathways (Point 3): The pathways and machinery involved in ribosome assembly vary among the three domains of life. Eukaryotic ribosome biogenesis occurs in the nucleolus, involves numerous small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs), and is vastly more complex than the processes seen in bacteria or archaea.
4. Variance in Protein Transportation Systems (Point 4): The mechanisms for protein transportation within cells show disparities among the three domains. Eukaryotes utilize the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus for protein modification and transportation, while bacteria use simpler systems like the Sec and Tat pathways. Archaea present a unique blend, having some systems resembling bacteria and others that are more eukaryotic-like.
5. Presence or Absence of Organelles (Point 5): Eukaryotic cells contain membrane-bound organelles, which facilitate specialized protein transportation routes not seen in bacteria or archaea. This stark difference in cellular organization and compartmentalization further strengthens the case for separate cellular origins.
6. Signal Recognition and Protein Targeting Discrepancies (Point 6): The strategies employed by cells to recognize and target proteins to specific locations differ across domains. Eukaryotes have a signal recognition particle (SRP) that interacts with the endoplasmic reticulum, while bacteria and archaea use SRPs that are functionally similar but structurally different, suggesting a distinct evolutionary or origin pathway.

1. Woese, C. R., Kandler, O., & Wheelis, M. L. (1990). Towards a natural system of organisms: Proposal for the domains Archaea, Bacteria, and Eucarya. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 87(12), 4576-4579. Link. (This pivotal paper proposes the division of life into three domains, providing foundational groundwork for discussions on ribosome biogenesis and protein transport differences.)
2. Henras, A. K., Plisson-Chastang, C., O'Donohue, M. F., Chakraborty, A., & Gleizes, P. E. (2015). An overview of pre-ribosomal RNA processing in eukaryotes. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: RNA, 6(2), 225-242. Link. (A detailed overview of eukaryotic pre-rRNA processing, highlighting the intricacies and differences from bacterial and archaeal counterparts.)
3. Shajani, Z., Sykes, M. T., & Williamson, J. R. (2011). Assembly of bacterial ribosomes. Annual review of biochemistry, 80, 501-526. Link. (This review delves into bacterial ribosome assembly, presenting a contrast to eukaryotic ribosome biogenesis.)
4. Akopian, D., Shen, K., Zhang, X., & Shan, S. O. (2013). Signal recognition particle: an essential protein-targeting machine. Annual review of biochemistry, 82, 693-721. Link. (Describes the role and variations of the Signal Recognition Particle in different domains of life.)
5. Driessen, A. J., & Nouwen, N. (2008). Protein translocation across the bacterial cytoplasmic membrane. Annual review of biochemistry, 77, 643-667. Link. (An in-depth review of bacterial protein translocation mechanisms, contrasting the more intricate eukaryotic systems.)
6. Ebersberger, I., Simm, S., Leisegang, M. S., Schmitzberger, P., Mirus, O., von Haeseler, A., Bohnsack, M. T., & Schleiff, E. (2014). The evolution of the ribosome biogenesis pathway from a yeast perspective. Nucleic Acids Research, 42(3), 1509-1523. Link. (This paper explores the evolution of the ribosome biogenesis pathway, specifically focusing on yeast as a model organism to elucidate the complexity and differences in this essential cellular process.)
7. Melnikov, S., Manakongtreecheep, K., & Söll, D. (2018). Revising the Structural Diversity of Ribosomal Proteins Across the Three Domains of Life. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 35(7), 1588-1598. Link. (This research paper delves into the structural diversity of ribosomal proteins across the three domains of life, offering a comprehensive overview of their variety and distinctions.)

44. RNA Editing Mechanism Differences: RNA editing mechanism differences

1. Distinct Mechanisms of RNA Editing Across Domains (Point 1): RNA editing mechanisms vary significantly among the three domains of life. In eukaryotes, for example, ADAR enzymes mediate A-to-I editing in double-stranded regions of RNA. In contrast, certain prokaryotes use tRNA modification enzymes to modify specific tRNA bases. These vast disparities in editing mechanisms demonstrate the independent nature of RNA editing processes among different life domains.
2. Unique RNA Editing Sites and Specificities (Point 2): The sites and specificities of RNA editing are uniquely distributed among organisms, suggesting independent origins of editing processes. While some eukaryotic mitochondria display extensive C-to-U editing, certain archaea present a different range of modifications. These variations in RNA editing sites and specificity patterns support the notion of separate origins for each life domain.
3. RNA Editing and Evolutionary Stasis (Point 3): If universal common descent was the main force behind the prevalence of RNA editing, we would expect more consistent and shared editing mechanisms across species. However, the vast diversities and unique occurrences of RNA editing in various organisms hint at independent origins or creation events.
4. RNA Editing Complexity (Point 4): The complexity and specificity of RNA editing processes, combined with the lack of a clear evolutionary advantage for many editing events, align more closely with a polyphyly interpretation. Instead of a single, shared ancestry with gradual complexity, the intricate RNA editing mechanisms in each domain are more in line with the notion of separate origins.
5. Lack of Transitional RNA Editing Forms (Point 5): Despite extensive research, transitional or intermediate forms of RNA editing that could bridge the vast differences between life domains are absent. This absence further consolidates the idea of distinct and separate origins for each RNA editing mechanism found in the three domains of life.

1. Bass, B.L. (2002). RNA editing by adenosine deaminases that act on RNA. Annual Review of Biochemistry, 71, 817-846. Link. (This review focuses on the adenosine-to-inosine RNA editing mechanism in eukaryotes and its biological implications.)
2. Gott, J.M., and Emeson, R.B. (2000). Functions and mechanisms of RNA editing. Annual Review of Genetics, 34, 499-531. Link. (An overview of various RNA editing events, discussing both their functions and underlying mechanisms.)
3. Smith, H.C., Gott, J.M., and Hanson, M.R. (1997). A guide to RNA editing. RNA, 3(10), 1105-1123. Link. (This guide provides a detailed account of various RNA editing mechanisms and their occurrences in different organisms.)
4. Alfonzo, J.D., and Lukeš, J. (2011). RNA editing in trypanosomes: machinery and implications for pathogenesis, immune evasion, and drug design. Future Microbiology, 6(5), 589-605. Link. (This paper delves into the RNA editing mechanisms in trypanosomes and the broader consequences of such editing events.)
5. Randau, L., and Söll, D. (2008). Transfer RNA genes in pieces. EMBO reports, 9(7), 623-628. Link. (An exploration of fragmented tRNA genes in archaea and the potential RNA editing processes that might be involved in their maturation.)

Last edited by Otangelo on Sat Sep 16, 2023 1:52 pm; edited 1 time in total




45. RNA Polymerase Variabilities: Different types of RNA polymerases in organisms

The DNA replication machinery is not homologous in the 3 domains of life

The bacterial core replisome enzymes do not share a common ancestor with the analogous components in eukaryotes and archaea. L.S. Kaguni (2016): Genome sequencing of cells from the three domains of life, bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes, reveals that most of the core replisome components evolved twice, independently. Thus, the bacterial core replisome enzymes do not share a common ancestor with the analogous components in eukaryotes and archaea, while the archaea and eukaryotic core replisome machinery share a common ancestor. An exception to this are the clamps and clamp loaders, which are homologous in all three domains of life.6

A. C. Leonard (2013): Like the origins of DNA replication, the promoters of bacterial and yeast genes have different structures, are recognized by different proteins, and are not exchangeable. The absolute incompatibility between prokaryote (e.g., E. coli) and eukaryote (e.g., yeast) origins of replication and promoters, as well as DNA replication, transcription, and translation machineries, stands as a largely unrecognized challenge to the evolutionary view that the two share a common ancestor. 7

E.V. Koonin (2020): The origin of DNA replication is an enigma because the replicative DNA polymerases (DNAPs) are not homologous among the three domains of life.DNA replication is a central process for all living cells. Therefore, it is astonishing that the key enzymes involved in DNA replication, in particular, the replicative DNA polymerases (rDNAP), are unrelated among the 3 domains of life, Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya.  This diversity of the replication machineries sharply contrasts with the conservation of the proteins involved in the other key processes of information transfer, namely, transcription and translation, as well as some key metabolic processes, such as nucleotide biosynthesis. The lack of conservation of the rDNAPs and some other key components of the replication machinery, such as helicases and primases, complicates the reconstruction of the replicative apparatus of the ancestral life formsThere are several families of DNA polymerases that are involved in replication, repair or both types of processes. The replicative DNAPs of bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes belong to 3 distinct protein families, and the core catalytic domains of these 3 DNAPs are unrelated to each other, i.e., adopt different protein folds as their catalytic cores and therefore are unlikely to share common ancestryThe great majority of dsDNA viruses that infect either prokaryotes or eukaryotes and encode their own rDNAPs have the B family polymerase (PolB) that is also responsible for the replication in eukaryotes (Table above). Archaea encode multiple PolB copies, and with the exception of members of the order Crenarchaeota and some thermophilic members of the Thaumarchaeota, also the distinct family D DNAP (PolD). In archaea that possess both DNAPs, it has been recently demonstrated that PolD, rather than PolB, is responsible for the synthesis of both DNA strands. The structure of PolD has been recently solved, resulting in a surprising discovery that the catalytic core of PolD is homologous to that of the large subunits of the DNA-directed RNA polymerases (RNAPs) that are responsible for transcription in all three domains of life and many large DNA viruses. These findings seem to shed unexpected light on the evolution of the replication machineries in the three domains of life as well as viruses. They might even help to infer the nature of the replication machinery in the LUCA suggesting an evolutionary scenario in which PolD takes the central stage as the ancestral replicative polymerase. 8

Comment: E.V. Koonin's exploration of the origin of DNA replication raises important questions about the evolutionary narrative, particularly in the context of universal common ancestry. The lack of homology among replicative DNA polymerases (rDNAPs) across the three domains of life—Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya—stands as a significant challenge to the notion of a shared ancestral origin. The diversity observed in the replication machineries sharply contrasts with the conservation of key proteins involved in processes like transcription and translation, suggesting a discordance between the evolution of these fundamental molecular processes. The absence of common ancestry among the rDNAPs and other critical components complicates attempts to reconstruct the replicative apparatus of ancestral life forms. This complexity prompts us to consider alternative explanations for the origins of life's complexity and diversity. These findings present a compelling case against universal common ancestry. The lack of homology in essential enzymes that drive DNA replication challenges the idea that all life forms share a single origin. The presence of distinct and unrelated replication machinery points towards a scenario of separate origins, or polyphyly, where different life forms may have arisen independently. The emergence of the PolD enzyme with a surprising homology to the large subunits of DNA-directed RNA polymerases (RNAPs) adds another layer of complexity to the narrative. This discovery highlights unexpected connections between DNA replication and transcription processes. Instead of supporting a straightforward evolutionary path, these findings invite us to consider alternative explanations for the origins of these molecular systems. The concept of PolD potentially taking center stage as the ancestral replicative polymerase challenges the uniformity of evolutionary trajectories. This intriguing possibility suggests a diverse origin for different components of life's machinery, which aligns more closely with the idea of separate origins for distinct groups of organisms.

The complexity of DNA replication machinery can vary significantly between different types of organisms.  Bacteria generally have a simplified DNA replication process compared to archaea and eukaryotes. Bacterial DNA replication involves a relatively small number of proteins, typically around 20 to 30. The number of subunits may be fewer compared to archaea and eukaryotes. Bacteria use a modest number of co-factors for DNA replication. Bacteria have a streamlined replication machinery with fewer specialized structures. Archaea, while often simpler than eukaryotes, may have some variations in DNA replication machinery.  The number of proteins involved in archaeal DNA replication could be slightly higher than in bacteria, possibly around 30 to 40. Archaeal DNA replication complexes might consist of more subunits than bacteria.  Similar to bacteria, archaea use a moderate number of co-factors for DNA replication  Archaeal DNA replication machinery may have some unique features compared to bacteria. These distinctive characteristics contribute to the complexity and diversity of DNA replication processes across different domains of life.  Archaeal DNA replication origins are distinct from bacterial origins. Archaea often utilize specific DNA sequence motifs and binding proteins to initiate replication, differing from the well-defined bacterial oriC. While some components of archaeal DNA replication machinery share homology with bacterial counterparts, there are notable differences in the structure and function of these proteins. For instance, the archaeal MCM helicase is similar to the bacterial DnaC helicase loader but functions differently. Archaeal DNA helicases, such as the MCM (mini-chromosome maintenance) complex, display unique characteristics. They possess ring-shaped hexameric structures similar to their eukaryotic counterparts, suggesting an ancient origin for this type of helicase. Archaeal DNA replication involves distinct topoisomerases that resolve DNA supercoiling. The enzymes and mechanisms for relieving DNA torsional stress differ from those found in bacteria. Some archaeal species possess a single enzyme that combines primase and polymerase functions. This fusion enzyme synthesizes RNA primers and then extends them with DNA, simplifying the replication process. Archaea have PCNA-like proteins that interact with DNA polymerases and other replication factors, similar to eukaryotic PCNA. Bacteria lack this type of protein. The processing of Okazaki fragments (short DNA fragments formed on the lagging strand during replication) in archaea involves unique enzymes, differing from bacterial DNA replication mechanisms. Archaea often exhibit more complex cellular organization than bacteria, with some species having internal membrane systems. This structural complexity may influence DNA replication and other cellular processes. These unique features of archaeal DNA replication machinery showcase the diversity of mechanisms present in different domains of life.

Eukaryotic DNA replication is more complex due to the presence of membrane-bound organelles and intricate cellular processes.  Eukaryotic DNA replication involves a larger number of proteins, often exceeding 50 to 100. The number of subunits in eukaryotic DNA replication complexes is higher compared to prokaryotes. Eukaryotes utilize a diverse array of co-factors and enzymes for DNA replication. Eukaryotic DNA replication machinery is intricately organized within the nucleus and involves multiple organelles and cellular compartments. The comparison between DNA replication components in the smallest bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotic cells underscores the increasing complexity as we move from simple prokaryotes to more complex eukaryotic organisms. Eukaryotes, with their membrane-bound organelles and specialized cellular processes, have a considerably more intricate DNA replication system. This complexity reflects the adaptations that have occurred over evolutionary time, leading to the development of specialized mechanisms for DNA replication in different types of organisms.

The substantial differences observed in the DNA replication machinery across bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes raise significant challenges when attempting to envision a plausible trajectory from a universal common ancestor to the three domains of life. These differences highlight the complexities that must be addressed when considering the concept of universal common ancestry.  The DNA replication machinery in each domain employs different proteins, subunits, co-factors, and structures. The variations are not minor adjustments but involve substantial differences in the key players and their interactions. Bacterial, archaeal, and eukaryotic DNA replication origins are distinct, using unique mechanisms to initiate replication. This divergence suggests independent paths rather than a single common ancestor.  While there may be some homologous proteins, the differences in structure and function of key components, such as helicases and polymerases, indicate trajectories that do not derive from a common ancestor.  Enzymes involved in Okazaki fragment processing, DNA supercoiling resolution, and primer synthesis have unique characteristics in each domain. These differences point to the independent origin of these crucial processes.  Eukaryotic DNA replication involves a more complex system with a higher number of proteins, subunits, and co-factors. The presence of membrane-bound organelles further complicates the scenario, making a direct linear trajectory from a simpler universal common ancestor challenging.  The presence of complex cellular organization and organelles in eukaryotes adds another layer of complexity that cannot easily be reconciled with a simple evolutionary progression from prokaryotes. The significant differences in DNA replication machinery between domains highlight evolutionary gaps that cannot be easily bridged by gradual changes. These gaps suggest that the origin of each domain is distinct rather than convergent. Considering these substantial differences in DNA replication machinery, it becomes increasingly difficult to envision a continuous, linear trajectory from a universal common ancestor to the three domains of life. The divergence in key components, the uniqueness of processes, and the complexity of eukaryotic cellular organization challenge the concept of a single origin for all life forms. Instead, these differences imply that the origin for bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes likely are distinct and independent from each other.

1. Diverse Types Across Domains (Point 1): Each of the three domains of life, Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukaryotes, has its unique set of RNA polymerases. Bacteria typically use a single RNA polymerase for transcription, while Eukaryotes utilize three different RNA polymerases (I, II, III) for various roles. Similarly, Archaea are equipped with an RNA polymerase resembling eukaryotic RNA polymerase II.
2. Structural and Functional Variabilities (Point 2): The primary structures of these RNA polymerases among the domains have noticeable disparities. These differences in structure and associated factors strongly indicate distinct mechanisms of transcription initiation, elongation, and termination.
3. RNA Polymerase Promoter Recognition (Point 3): The way RNA polymerases recognize and bind to promoters also differs across the domains. In Bacteria, sigma factors are employed to guide the RNA polymerase to specific promoters, while in Eukaryotes, a collection of general transcription factors is used. Archaea present a blend, using proteins resembling eukaryotic transcription factors but employing mechanisms akin to bacterial sigma factors.
4. Sensitivity to Antibiotics and Toxins (Point 4): Various toxins and antibiotics specifically target bacterial RNA polymerase, emphasizing its distinct nature. This specificity underscores the unique structural and functional aspects of bacterial RNA polymerase compared to those in Eukaryotes or Archaea.
5. Evolutionary Origin Uncertainties (Point 5): Given the substantial disparities in RNA polymerase structure, function, and associated factors across the three domains, it's challenging to pinpoint a single ancestral RNA polymerase from which all others have derived.

1. Cramer, P. (2002). Multisubunit RNA polymerases. Current Opinion in Structural Biology, 12(1), 89-97. Link. (This paper presents a detailed analysis of the multisubunit RNA polymerases from the three domains of life, emphasizing the structural and functional differences.)
2. Werner, F. & Grohmann, D. (2011). Evolution of multisubunit RNA polymerases in the three domains of life. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 9(2), 85-98. Link. (This review focuses on the evolution of multisubunit RNA polymerases, discussing the distinct sets used by Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukaryotes.)
3. Jun, S.H., Reichlen, M.J., Tajiri, M., & Murakami, K.S. (2011). Archaeal RNA polymerase and transcription regulation. Critical Reviews in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 46(1), 27-40. Link. (This article provides insights into the unique RNA polymerase of Archaea and how it represents a blend of features from both bacterial and eukaryotic systems.)
4. Sainsbury, S., Niesser, J., & Cramer, P. (2013). Structure and function of the initially transcribing RNA polymerase II–TFIIB complex. Nature, 493(7432), 437-440. Link. (This research offers an in-depth structural examination of eukaryotic RNA polymerase II during the initial stages of transcription.)
5. Vassylyev, D.G., Sekine, S., Laptenko, O., Lee, J., Vassylyeva, M.N., Borukhov, S., & Yokoyama, S. (2002). Crystal structure of a bacterial RNA polymerase holoenzyme at 2.6 Å resolution. Nature, 417(6890), 712-719. Link. (This paper presents the detailed structure of bacterial RNA polymerase, emphasizing its distinct nature and function in transcription.)
6. Kaguni, L. (Ed.). (Date of Publication). DNA Replication Across Taxa (Volume 39) (The Enzymes, Volume 39). Publisher (if available). Link. (This edition provides comprehensive insights into the intricacies of DNA replication across different taxa, discussing both the similarities and unique aspects found in various organisms.)
7. Leonard, A. C., & Méchali, M. (2013). DNA Replication Origins. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol, 5(10), a010116. Link. (This article delves into the subject of DNA replication origins, discussing their intricate details and functions in cellular biology.)
8. Koonin, E. V., Krupovic, M., Ishino, S., & Ishino, Y. (2020). The replication machinery of LUCA: common origin of DNA replication and transcription. BMC Biology, 18(1), 61. Link. (This paper discusses the common origin of DNA replication and transcription in LUCA (Last Universal Common Ancestor), shedding light on the fundamental machinery governing these processes.)[/b]

46. Syntrophy and Mutual Dependencies: Organisms that depend on each other's metabolic by-products

1. Syntrophy and Mutual Dependencies: Many organisms have intricate metabolic relationships where they rely on the metabolic by-products of other species. Such complex interdependencies suggest that these organisms are tailored to co-exist in a specific environment, hinting at a co-origination rather than a co-adaptation over time. This is evident in various ecosystems where one organism's waste becomes an essential nutrient for another.
2. Unique Biochemical Pathways: Some organisms possess specific biochemical pathways not found in any other lineage. This uniqueness indicates separate origins rather than derivatives from a common ancestor. The intricacies of these pathways, which are sometimes essential for the organism's survival, defy the notion of them having evolved from a simpler precursor.
3. Molecular Isolation of Domains: The three primary life domains—Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya—exhibit vast molecular differences. The distinct differences in membrane lipids and RNA polymerase structures between Archaea and Bacteria support the idea of separate origins.
4. Absence of Transitional Forms: One of the hallmarks of polyphyly is the distinct separation of groups without apparent transitional forms. If organisms were part of a singular tree of life, one would expect myriad intermediate forms. However, such intermediates are sparse, lending weight to the polyphyletic perspective.
5. Presence of 'Orphan Genes': These are genes without detectable homologs in other lineages. Their presence challenges the idea of a universal common ancestor, as they seemingly appear 'de novo' in specific lineages, supporting the notion of separate origins.
6. Consistency in Core Structures: While evolution often cites adaptability and change as its cornerstones, the core structures and processes of life forms—like DNA replication and protein synthesis—show remarkable consistency across domains. Such conservation, despite the presumed billions of years and countless generational changes, suggests a design set in place from the outset.

1. Smith, J.J., et al. (2012). Genomic and epigenomic complexity of the myzostomid endosymbiont. Nature Communications, 3, 1125. Link. (This paper describes how epigenomic modifications and chromatin dynamics influence gene regulatory networks, impacting how cells respond to various environmental signals.)
2. Dehal, P. & Boore, J.L. (2005). Two rounds of whole-genome duplication in the ancestral vertebrate. PLoS Biology, 3(10), e314. Link. (The study reveals the unique biochemical pathways in specific organisms, suggesting a separate origin than a derivation from a common ancestor.)
3. Spang, A., et al. (2015). Complex archaea that bridge the gap between prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Nature, 521(7551), 173-179. Link. (Highlights the molecular differences between the domains of Archaea and Bacteria, providing evidence for their separate origins.)
4. Tautz, D. & Domazet-Lošo, T. (2011). The evolutionary origin of orphan genes. Nature Reviews Genetics, 12(10), 692-702. Link. (Delves into the mystery of 'orphan genes' which seemingly appear 'de novo' in certain lineages, raising questions about the universal common ancestor hypothesis.)
5. Koonin, E.V. (2015). The turbulent network dynamics of microbial evolution and the statistical tree of life. Journal of Molecular Evolution, 80(5-6), 244-250. Link. (Discussing the presence of core structures and processes of life forms across domains, hinting at a designed consistency in place from the very beginning.)

47. Unique Ion Transport Mechanisms: Differences in how ions are moved across cell membranes

1. Diversity of Ion Channels and Pumps Across Domains (Point 27): When comparing the ion transport systems across the three domains of life – Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukaryota – stark differences are evident. The architecture, specificity, and regulation of ion channels and pumps show vast differences. For instance, certain bacterial ion channels are structurally and functionally distinct from eukaryotic ion channels. This suggests they are not merely derivatives from a common ancestral system but are a product of separate origins.
2. Presence of Unique Ion Transporters in Archaea (Point 28): The unique living conditions and environments of Archaea, such as extreme salinity or temperature, necessitate distinct ion transport mechanisms. The transporters found in Archaea, which help them maintain osmotic balance in extreme conditions, differ significantly from their counterparts in bacteria and eukaryotes. Such unique adaptations are consistent with the idea of Archaea having a distinct origin.
3. Eukaryotic Complexity in Ion Regulation (Point 29): Eukaryotes possess an added layer of complexity in ion transport, with specialized organelles like the endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria, each having its own unique ion transporters and channels. Such sophisticated compartmentalization and regulation are absent in prokaryotes, hinting at distinct mechanisms of origin.
4. Diversity of Voltage-Gated Ion Channels (Point 30): The presence of diverse voltage-gated ion channels in eukaryotic neurons, which are crucial for complex processes like synaptic transmission, is another point of divergence. The specificity and regulation of these channels, essential for higher organisms' cognitive and motor functions, indicate a different origin than simpler, universally found ion channels in prokaryotes.
5. Absence of Homologous Ion Transport Systems Across Domains (Point 31): In many cases, homologous systems responsible for similar functions in different domains are conspicuously absent. Instead, what we observe are distinct systems achieving similar ion transport functions. Such a pattern is indicative of unique origins rather than a universal common ancestor.

1. Martinac, B. (2001). Mechanosensitive ion channels: Molecules of mechanotransduction. Journal of Cell Science, 114(10), 1849-1859. Link. (This study delves into mechanosensitive ion channels and their role in transducing mechanical force into an electrical or chemical intracellular signal.)
2. Hille, B. (2001). Ion Channels of Excitable Membranes. Sinauer Associates. Link. (A foundational text that provides a comprehensive look into the properties and functions of various ion channels.)
3. Kühlbrandt, W. (2004). Biology, structure, and mechanism of P-type ATPases. Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, 5(4), 282-295. Link. (This review discusses the structure and function of P-type ATPases, a family of ion transport proteins, and their diverse roles in cells.)
4. Chen, J., & Ruta, V. (2015). Evolution of voltage-gated ion channels: From molecular machines to evolutionary building blocks. Current Opinion in Genetics & Development, 35, 110-120. Link. (This article examines the evolution of voltage-gated ion channels and their contribution to cellular physiology.)
5. Sazanov, L. A., & Hinchliffe, P. (2006). Structure of the hydrophilic domain of respiratory complex I from Thermus thermophilus. Science, 311(5766), 1430-1436. Link. (This study looks into the structure of a part of the respiratory complex I, which is responsible for ion transport across membranes, specifically in Thermus thermophilus, a bacterium.)

48. Unique Signal Transduction Pathways: Organism-specific pathways for transmitting cellular signals

1. Diverse Kinase Specificities Across Domains (Point 3): While kinases play a crucial role in mediating signal transduction in all life forms, the specificity and types of kinases are distinct across different domains. For example, eukaryotic protein kinases (ePKs) and eukaryotic-like kinases (ELKs) in bacteria exhibit vast differences in their domain structures and substrate specificities. This diversity underscores the distinct signaling mechanisms present in each domain, suggesting separate origins.
2. Distinct Quorum Sensing Systems in Bacteria (Point 9): Quorum sensing is a bacterial communication system that regulates gene expression in response to population density. Different bacterial species have developed unique quorum sensing molecules and receptors, indicating the lack of a single ancestral signaling molecule for this purpose. This diversity in quorum sensing systems within bacteria alone underscores the possibility of multiple origins.
3. Unique G-Protein Coupled Receptors in Eukaryotes (Point 14): The G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) are a vast and diverse family of proteins in eukaryotes. Their diversity, along with their specificity in binding ligands and activating intracellular pathways, makes it challenging to trace them back to a common ancestral protein. This expansive array of GPCRs suggests eukaryotes have developed these pathways independently, pointing to a separate origin.
4. Differences in Calcium Signaling (Point 20): Calcium signaling is a universal mechanism across cells, but the machinery behind it varies across domains. While eukaryotes use a comprehensive set of tools involving IP3 receptors, Ryanodine receptors, and various calcium channels, prokaryotes employ fundamentally different systems for calcium sensing and regulation. Such contrasting mechanisms across domains advocate for the idea of distinct origins.
5. Phosphoinositide Signaling Uniqueness in Eukaryotes (Point 27): Phosphoinositides play a pivotal role in eukaryotic cell signaling. Their presence and function are tailored specifically to eukaryotic cellular needs, and there isn't a direct counterpart in prokaryotes. This eukaryote-specific signaling pathway, without clear parallels in prokaryotes, suggests a unique origin distinct from other life domains.

1. Manning, G., Whyte, D.B., Martinez, R., Hunter, T., & Sudarsanam, S. (2002). The protein kinase complement of the human genome. Science, 298(5600), 1912-1934. Link. (This research identifies the human kinome and demonstrates the extensive diversity and specialization of kinase activities in human cells.)
2. Waters, C.M., & Bassler, B.L. (2005). Quorum sensing: cell-to-cell communication in bacteria. Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology, 21, 319-346. Link. (An in-depth review on the unique quorum sensing mechanisms in different bacterial species.)
3. Pierce, K.L., Premont, R.T., & Lefkowitz, R.J. (2002). Seven-transmembrane receptors. Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, 3(9), 639-650. Link. (This review highlights the unique features and diversities of G-protein coupled receptors in eukaryotes.)
4. Clapham, D.E. (2007). Calcium signaling. Cell, 131(6), 1047-1058. Link. (An article detailing the intricacies of calcium signaling across different cell types and organisms, suggesting the vast differences in mechanisms.)
5. Balla, T. (2013). Phosphoinositides: tiny lipids with giant impact on cell regulation. Physiological Reviews, 93(3), 1019-1137. Link. (A comprehensive review on the unique role of phosphoinositides in eukaryotic cell signaling.)

49. Varied Cell Motility Mechanisms: Differences in cell movement

1. Distinctive Motility Mechanisms Across Domains (Point 1): The three domains of life — Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukaryota — exhibit markedly different mechanisms of cell motility. Bacterial flagella, for example, are fundamentally distinct in structure and function from eukaryotic flagella or cilia. While bacterial flagella are driven by a rotary motor mechanism, eukaryotic cilia and flagella employ a sliding mechanism of microtubules. Archaea, on the other hand, have unique archaellum-driven motility distinct from both bacterial and eukaryotic systems.
2. Varied Molecular Motors and Cytoskeletal Elements (Point 2): At the molecular level, cells from different domains utilize unique molecular motors for movement. In eukaryotic cells, actin and myosin facilitate muscle contraction and cell movement. Contrastingly, bacteria employ the motor protein MotA/B for their flagellar rotation. Archaea, with their distinct evolutionary lineage, use a unique set of proteins, distinct from those found in bacteria and eukaryotes, for their motility.
3. Differentiation of Pseudopodial Movement (Point 3): Eukaryotic cells, especially those of amoeboid nature, demonstrate pseudopodial movement, a form of movement not observed in Bacteria or Archaea. This movement mechanism, involving the dynamic rearrangement of the actin cytoskeleton, underscores a unique motility method separate from the other domains.

1. Berg, H.C. (2003). The rotary motor of bacterial flagella. Annual Review of Biochemistry, 72, 19-54. Link. (This review elaborates on the unique rotary motor mechanism driving bacterial flagella, distinguishing it from eukaryotic cell motility structures.)
2. Satir, P., & Christensen, S.T. (2007). Overview of Structure and Function of Mammalian Cilia. Annual Review of Physiology, 69, 377-400. Link. (This paper provides a comprehensive view of the eukaryotic cilia and flagella, focusing on their structural and functional intricacies.)
3. Albers, S.V., & Jarrell, K.F. (2015). The archaellum: An update on the unique archaeal motility structure. Trends in Microbiology, 23(6), 351-362. Link. (A focused review on the archaellum, a unique motility structure in Archaea, setting it apart from bacterial and eukaryotic motility apparatus.)
4. Pollard, T.D., & Cooper, J.A. (2009). Actin, a central player in cell shape and movement. Science, 326(5957), 1208-1212. Link. (The study delves into the actin cytoskeleton's role in eukaryotic cell movement, particularly its involvement in pseudopodial movement.)
5. Sowa, Y., & Berry, R.M. (2008). Bacterial flagellar motor. Quarterly Reviews of Biophysics, 41(2), 103-132. Link. (An in-depth analysis of the bacterial flagellar motor, detailing the MotA/B protein's role in bacterial motility.)

50. Varied Protein Folding Mechanisms: Differences in how proteins achieve their functional conformations

1. Chaperonins in Bacteria (Point 5): Bacteria utilize chaperonins such as GroEL and GroES to assist in protein folding. These molecular machines temporarily house non-native proteins, providing an isolated environment for them to fold without interference or forming aggregates.
2. Endoplasmic Reticulum in Eukaryotes (Point 9): Eukaryotic cells have a specialized organelle, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), where protein folding takes place for secretory and membrane proteins. This compartmentalization, along with chaperones like BiP, makes the protein folding mechanism distinct from that of bacteria.
3. Thermosome in Archaea (Point 17): Archaea use a different set of chaperonins, notably the thermosome, which is essential for protein folding under extreme conditions. This chaperonin has a unique structure and mechanism, contrasting both bacterial and eukaryotic systems.
4. Variability in Protein Disulfide Isomerase (Point 23): Protein Disulfide Isomerase (PDI) catalyzes the formation and rearrangement of disulfide bonds in the ER of eukaryotic cells, aiding protein folding. This mechanism isn't as prevalent or centralized in bacteria, indicating a separate strategy for managing disulfide bond formation.
5. Diverse Proteostasis Networks (Point 29): The networks of chaperones, folding catalysts, and proteolytic systems—collectively termed proteostasis networks—differ between domains of life. The diversity in these networks suggests different strategies for maintaining the health of the proteome, supporting the idea of separate origins.

50. Varied Protein Folding Mechanisms: Differences in how proteins achieve their functional conformations

Chaperonins in bacteria, heat shock proteins in the chloroplasts of plants, and the thermosome structures in Archaea, each reveal a remarkable fit for their specific roles and environments. This diversity points to a design principle where each mechanism is not just a result of random events but is tailored for optimal functionality within its specific context.

Moreover, the existence of complex systems such as the human protein disulfide isomerase family, which plays a critical role in ensuring proteins achieve their correct three-dimensional structures, underscores the sophistication inherent in life. These systems do not just perform their functions efficiently but also demonstrate an adaptive precision that seems to transcend simple evolutionary explanations based on random mutations and natural selection.

In essence, the diversity and complexity of protein folding mechanisms across life forms suggest an underlying principle of purposeful design. Each system is not merely a product of chance but appears to be crafted with a specific function in mind, ensuring the stability and efficiency of cellular processes essential for life. This perspective invites a deeper appreciation for the intricacies of biological systems, seeing them as a reflection of intentional and intelligent design.

1. Ellis, R.J. (1987). Proteins as molecular chaperones. Nature, 328, 378-379. Link. (This paper provides an early perspective on the concept of molecular chaperones, proteins that assist in the folding of other proteins, and emphasizes their importance in cellular physiology.)
2. Hartl, F.U., & Hayer-Hartl, M. (2002). Molecular chaperones in the cytosol: from nascent chain to folded protein. Science, 295(5561), 1852-1858. Link. (This review delves into the function of chaperones in the cytosol of cells, highlighting the roles of GroEL and GroES in bacteria.)
3. Schroda, M., Vallon, O., Wollman, F.A., & Beck, C.F. (2001). A chloroplast-targeted heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) contributes to the photoprotection and repair of photosystem II during and after photoinhibition. Plant Cell, 13(11), 2647-2663. Link. (This study provides insights into the role of HSP70, a molecular chaperone, in the chloroplasts of eukaryotic cells and its importance in the protection and repair of photosystem II.)
4. Ditzel, L., Löwe, J., Stock, D., Stetter, K.O., Huber, H., Huber, R., & Steinbacher, S. (1998). Crystal structure of the thermosome, the archaeal chaperonin and homolog of CCT. Cell, 93(1), 125-138. Link. (This article delves into the structure of the thermosome in Archaea, providing a comprehensive understanding of its unique protein-folding mechanism.)
5. Ellgaard, L., & Ruddock, L.W. (2005). The human protein disulphide isomerase family: substrate interactions and functional properties. EMBO Reports, 6(1), 28-32. Link. (This paper offers an in-depth look at the human protein disulfide isomerase family and its essential role in catalyzing the formation and rearrangement of disulfide bonds.)

51. Varying Energy Production Mechanisms: Differences in energy production

1. Varied Energy Production Systems (Point 1): Bacteria often rely on a diverse range of metabolic pathways for energy production, from classic glycolysis to unique methods like the utilization of methane or sulfur. The sheer diversity and specificity of these pathways in bacteria, in many instances not found in other domains, suggests unique systems rather than a shared lineage.
2. Distinct Mitochondrial Evolution (Point 2): Eukaryotic cells utilize mitochondria for energy production, structures believed by many to have originated from ancient prokaryotes. However, the specialized nature of mitochondria, combined with the lack of a direct prokaryotic counterpart in modern times, indicates a distinct origin rather than a shared ancestry.
3. Archaeal Ether Lipid Membranes (Point 3): Unlike the ester-linked phospholipids in bacteria and eukaryotes, archaea possess unique ether-linked lipids. This fundamental difference in membrane structure, crucial for energy production and management, points to a distinct origin for archaeal species.
4. Oxygenic Versus Anoxygenic Photosynthesis (Point 4): Cyanobacteria are the only prokaryotes that can conduct oxygenic photosynthesis, producing oxygen. On the other hand, there are several bacterial species that perform anoxygenic photosynthesis. The fundamental difference in the manner and byproducts of energy production through photosynthesis suggests separate origination events.
5. Distinct ATP Synthase Structures (Point 5): While ATP synthase, the molecular machine for ATP production, is ubiquitous across domains, there are key structural differences between those found in bacteria, eukaryotes, and archaea. These distinct structures, critical for the most basic cellular energy production, highlight a potential separate origination.

1. Thauer, R. K., Kaster, A. K., Seedorf, H., Buckel, W., & Hedderich, R. (2008). Methanogenic archaea: ecologically relevant differences in energy conservation. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 6(Cool, 579-591. Link. (This paper discusses the energy conservation mechanisms in methanogenic archaea, emphasizing their unique pathways.)
2. Martin, W. & Müller, M. (1998). The hydrogen hypothesis for the first eukaryote. Nature, 392(6671), 37-41. Link. (The authors present the idea that eukaryotic cells, with their mitochondria, originated through a symbiotic event, highlighting the distinctiveness of eukaryotic energy production.)
3. Koga, Y., & Morii, H. (2005). Recent advances in structural research on ether lipids from archaea including comparative and physiological aspects. Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry, 69(11), 2019-2034. Link. (A detailed examination of the unique ether-linked lipids in archaea, underlining the distinctiveness of their cellular membranes.)
4. Blankenship, R. E., & Hartman, H. (1998). The origin and evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis. Trends in biochemical sciences, 23(3), 94-97. Link. (This article delves into the unique nature of oxygenic photosynthesis, pointing out the differences from anoxygenic photosynthesis.)
5. Allegretti, M., Klusch, N., Mills, D. J., Vonck, J., Kühlbrandt, W., & Davies, K. M. (2015). Horizontal membrane-intrinsic α-helices in the stator a-subunit of an F-type ATP synthase. Nature, 521(7551), 237-240. Link. (This study gives insights into the structure of ATP synthase in different domains, emphasizing the differences that suggest unique origination events.)

52. Viral Influence and Integration: Influence of viruses on evolution

1. Viral Integration Variability (Point 1): Viral integration sites within host genomes are not conserved across diverse species. This demonstrates that many species have unique interactions and histories with viruses, suggesting separate origins rather than a shared ancestral viral interaction.
2. Endogenous Retroviruses (Point 2): Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are viral sequences integrated into the genomes of many organisms. The presence and position of these ERVs are unique to many species, supporting the idea of distinct viral interactions rather than a continuous lineage.
3. Diverse Viral Replication Strategies (Point 3): The vast array of viral replication strategies across the three domains of life, from DNA viruses to RNA viruses to retroviruses, underscores the notion that these domains have experienced separate viral influences, indicative of separate origins.
4. Viral Dependency (Point 4): Some organisms rely on viruses for survival, while others do not. This dependency on viruses varies across species and suggests distinct evolutionary or origination pathways.
5. Virus-Driven Speciation (Point 5): There are instances where viral influences have led to the emergence of entirely new species. This rapid, virus-induced speciation hints at the possibility of separate creation events influenced by distinct viral interactions.

1. Lander, E.S., Linton, L.M., Birren, B., et al. (2001). Initial sequencing and analysis of the human genome. Nature, 409(6822), 860-921. Link. (This comprehensive sequencing of the human genome revealed numerous endogenous retroviral sequences embedded within, highlighting the significant influence of viral integration throughout human evolutionary history.)
2. Bannert, N., & Kurth, R. (2004). Retroelements and the human genome: New perspectives on an old relation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 101(suppl 2), 14572-14579. Link. (The paper discusses the complex relationship between retroelements, including endogenous retroviruses, and the human genome, emphasizing the evolutionary implications of this relationship.)
3. Stoye, J.P. (2006). Koala retrovirus: A genome invasion in real time. Genome Biology, 7(11), 241. Link. (Focuses on the koala retrovirus as it transitions from an exogenous to an endogenous form, offering insights into the process of viral integration into host genomes.)
4. Forterre, P., & Prangishvili, D. (2009). The great billion-year war between ribosome- and capsid-encoding organisms (cells and viruses) as the major source of evolutionary novelties. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1178(1), 65-77. Link. (The paper postulates that the ongoing war between cells and viruses has been a major driver of evolutionary innovation, suggesting that viral influences could lead to the emergence of new species.)
5. Feschotte, C., & Gilbert, C. (2012). Endogenous viruses: insights into viral evolution and impact on host biology. Nature Reviews Genetics, 13(4), 283-296. Link. (Reviews the evolutionary history of endogenous viral elements in eukaryotic genomes and discusses their significant impact on host biology.)

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No common ancestor for Viruses

Eugene V. Koonin (2020): In the genetic space of viruses and MGEs, no genes are universal or even conserved in the majority of viruses. Viruses have several distinct points of origin, so there has never been a last common ancestor of all viruses. 1

Koonin's statement challenges the notion of a universal common ancestor for all viruses, suggesting that viruses have multiple distinct points of origin rather than arising from a single ancestral lineage.  Viruses and mobile genetic elements (MGEs) encompass an immense variety of genetic content and structures. Unlike cellular organisms, they lack a universal set of conserved genes shared across different viral lineages. This genetic diversity is a key characteristic that distinguishes viruses from cellular life forms. The absence of universally conserved genes and the vast genetic diversity in viruses make it challenging to identify a single common ancestor for all viruses. Instead, the genetic space of viruses appears to be fragmented, with multiple points of origin. Viruses display a wide range of replication strategies, depending on their genetic material and structure. For example, DNA viruses replicate using host cellular machinery, while RNA viruses often encode their own replication enzymes.  Evidence from genomic analyses suggests the existence of seven distinct lineages, each with its own distinct origins and characteristics. These seven lineages are double-stranded DNA viruses, positive-strand RNA viruses, negative-strand RNA viruses, reverse-transcribing viruses, viruses with a double-stranded RNA genome, single-stranded DNA viruses, and satellite viruses. The genetic diversity and unique replication mechanisms within each of these lineages provide evidence for independent origins rather than shared ancestry.

Viruses and the Tree of life (2009): Viruses are polyphyletic: In a phylogenetic tree, the characteristics of members of taxa are inherited from previous ancestors. Viruses cannot be included in the tree of life because they do not share characteristics with cells, and no single gene is shared by all viruses or viral lineages. While cellular life has a single, common origin, viruses are polyphyletic – they have many evolutionary origins. Viruses don’t have a structure derived from a common ancestor.  Cells obtain membranes from other cells during cell division. According to this concept of ‘membrane heredity’, today’s cells have inherited membranes from the first cells.  Viruses have no such inherited structure.  They play an important role by regulating population and biodiversity. 2

Comment: The shared characteristics among members of taxa are inherited from common ancestors. However, viruses deviate from this paradigm due to their unique properties and origins. The polyphyletic nature of viruses stems from their lack of shared characteristics with cellular organisms. Unlike cellular life forms, viruses lack a universal set of genes or structures that can be traced back to a common ancestor. This absence of consistent traits prevents viruses from fitting neatly into the tree of life. Instead, viruses are thought to have multiple, independent origins that have shaped their diverse characteristics. One key reason for the exclusion of viruses from the Tree of life is their deviation from the structural and genetic features commonly found in cellular organisms. While cellular life has a cohesive membrane structure, viruses lack such a unified inherited structure.  Despite their unconventional status, viruses play crucial roles in ecosystems by regulating population sizes and influencing biodiversity. Viral infections can control the abundance of host organisms, preventing unchecked growth and maintaining ecological balance. This ecological role highlights the essential interplay between viruses and cellular life.  Some viruses integrate their genetic material into host genomes, influencing the adaptation of host species. Others cause diseases, driving selective pressures that shape the genetic diversity of hosts.

Eugene V. Koonin (2017): The entire history of life is the story of virus–host coevolution. Therefore the origins and evolution of viruses are an essential component of this process. A signature feature of the virus state is the capsid, the proteinaceous shell that encases the viral genome. Although homologous capsid proteins are encoded by highly diverse viruses, there are at least 20 unrelated varieties of these proteins. Viruses are the most abundant biological entities on earth and show remarkable diversity of genome sequences, replication and expression strategies, and virion structures. Evolutionary genomics of viruses revealed many unexpected connections but the general scenario(s) for the evolution of the virosphere remains a matter of intense debate among proponents of the cellular regression, escaped genes, and primordial virus world hypotheses. A comprehensive sequence and structure analysis of major virion proteins indicates that they evolved on about 20 independent occasions. Virus genomes typically consist of distinct structural and replication modules that recombine frequently and can have different evolutionary trajectories. The present analysis suggests that, although the replication modules of at least some classes of viruses might descend from primordial selfish genetic elements, bona fide viruses evolved on multiple, independent occasions throughout the course of evolution by the recruitment of diverse host proteins that became major virion components. 3

Comment: The story of life is intrinsically woven with the dance of interdependence between these entities, revealing the intricate design behind their interactions. This narrative places the origins of viruses at the forefront of understanding this harmonious interplay. A key feature that distinguishes viruses is their signature capsid—the proteinaceous shell enfolding the viral genome. Astonishingly, despite their immense diversity, distinct yet homologous capsid proteins are present across a wide array of viruses. This intricate design showcases a purposeful adaptation for diverse viral species to engage with their respective hosts in meaningful ways. Viruses, intriguingly, emerge as the most populous life forms on Earth. Their vast diversity in genome sequences, replication methods, expression strategies, and virion structures underscores the brilliance of their design.   The study of evolutionary genomics in viruses has brought to light numerous unexpected connections, sparking intense debates among researchers regarding the origin of the virosphere. Within this discourse, three primary hypotheses have emerged: cellular regression, escaped genes, and the primordial virus world hypothesis. Each of these hypotheses offers a distinct perspective on how viruses supposedly originated and evolved over time. The cellular regression hypothesis suggests that viruses evolved from more complex cellular organisms that regressed to simpler forms due to parasitic or symbiotic relationships. According to this view, viruses could be considered degenerate remnants of once-independent cellular life forms. This idea stems from observations of certain viruses that exhibit genetic and structural similarities to cellular organisms, raising the possibility that these viruses could be evolutionary remnants of a bygone cellular state. The escaped genes hypothesis proposes that viruses emerged from genes that "escaped" from cellular organisms, gaining the ability to replicate and spread independently. This scenario suggests that some genetic elements within cellular genomes, originally involved in various cellular processes, acquired the necessary components for autonomous replication and encapsulation. Over time, these escaped genes could have evolved into distinct viral entities. The primordial virus world hypothesis envisions a world where viruses predate cellular life forms, representing an ancient and independent form of life. Proponents of this hypothesis suggest that viruses could have existed prior to cellular organisms and played a role in shaping early life's evolutionary trajectories. In this scenario, viruses are considered a fundamental component of the early Earth's ecosystem, potentially influencing the emergence of cellular life as we know it. To shed light on the evolution of viruses, researchers have conducted comprehensive sequence and structure analyses of major virion proteins. These analyses have revealed intriguing insights, indicating that major virion proteins have originated independently on at least 20 occasions. This suggests that viruses have experienced multiple instances of convergent origins, where similar features and functions have emerged independently in different lineages. Virus genomes are typically composed of distinct modules responsible for replication and structure. These modules frequently undergo recombination, leading to diverse evolutionary trajectories. While the replication modules of certain virus classes might have origins as primordial selfish genetic elements, the overall evolution of bona fide viruses appears to have occurred through a process of recruiting diverse host proteins. These host proteins eventually became essential components of viral particles, contributing to the viral structure and life cycle.

The importance of the admission that viruses do not share a common ancestor cannot be outlined enough. Researchers also admit, that under a naturalistic framework, the origin of viruses remains obscure, and has not found an explanation. One reason is that viruses depend on a cell host in order to replicate. Another is, that the virus capsid shells that protect the viral genome are unique, there is no counterpart in life. A science paper that I quote below describes capsids with a "geometrically sophisticated architecture not seen in other biological assemblies". This seems to be interesting evidence of design. The claim that their origin has something to do with evolution is also misleading - evolution plays no role in explaining either the origin of life or the origin of viruses. The fact that "no single gene is shared by all viruses or viral lineages" prohibits drawing a tree of viruses leading to a common ancestor.  

Evidence Indicates that Life started Polyphyletic

D M Raup (1983):  Life forms are made possible by the remarkable properties of polypeptides. It has been argued that there must be many potential but unrealized polypeptides that could be used in living systems. The number of possible primary polypeptide structures with lengths comparable to those found in living systems is almost infinite. This suggests that the particular subset of polypeptides of which organisms are now composed is only one of a great many that could be associated in viable biochemistries. There is no taxonomic category available to contain all life forms descended from a single event of life origin. Here, we term such a group, earthly or otherwise, a bioclade. If more than one bioclade survives, life is polyphyletic. If only one survives, it is monophyletic. We conclude that multiple origins of life in the early Precambrian is a reasonable possibility.4

W. Ford Doolittle (2007): Darwin claimed that a unique inclusively hierarchical pattern of relationships between all organisms based on their similarities and differences [the Tree of Life (TOL)] was a fact of nature, for which evolution, and in particular a branching process of descent with modification, was the explanation. However, there is no independent evidence that the natural order is an inclusive hierarchy, and the incorporation of prokaryotes into the TOL is especially problematic. The only data sets from which we might construct a universal hierarchy including prokaryotes, the sequences of genes, often disagree and can seldom be proven to agree. Hierarchical structure can always be imposed on or extracted from such data sets by algorithms designed to do so, but at its base the universal TOL rests on an unproven assumption about pattern that, given what we know about the process, is unlikely to be broadly true. This is not to say that similarities and differences between organisms are not to be accounted for by evolutionary mechanisms, but descent with modification is only one of these mechanisms, and a single tree-like pattern is not the necessary (or expected) result of their collective operation. Pattern pluralism (the recognition that different evolutionary models and representations of relationships will be appropriate, and true, for different taxa or at different scales or for different purposes) is an attractive alternative to the quixotic pursuit of a single true TOL.5

Comment: Darwin's assertion that all living organisms are neatly interconnected in a hierarchical framework, forming the Tree of Life (TOL), might not be as unshakeable as it initially appeared. While he championed this notion as an inherent truth underpinned by evolution's guiding hand, there exists a notable absence of autonomous proof supporting the concept of a universal and all-encompassing hierarchy. This raises questions, particularly when grappling with the inclusion of prokaryotes within this framework, which proves to be a particularly thorny concern. The evidence drawn from gene sequences, a potential foundation for constructing an encompassing hierarchy, doesn't unfailingly align. In fact, these sequences often find themselves in a state of disagreement, creating a quagmire where a unanimous consensus is elusive. Algorithms designed to impose hierarchical order upon these datasets offer a semblance of structure, but the bedrock of the universal Tree of Life rests precariously on an assumption that lacks conclusive verification. Given the known intricacies of the evolutionary process, it's plausible that this assumption might not hold true. The insistence on a solitary, tree-like pattern as the definitive result of their collective interplay might not be the most reasonable or anticipated outcome. This brings us to the notion of pattern pluralism. 

Douglas L. Theobald (2010): In all cases tried, with a wide variety of evolutionary models (from the simplest to the most parameter rich), the multiple-ancestry models for shuffled data sets are preferred by a large margin over common ancestry models (LLR on the order of a thousand), even with the large internal branches. 6

C. P. Kempes (2021): We argue for multiple forms of life realized through multiple different historical pathways. From this perspective, there have been multiple origins of life on Earth—life is not a universal homology. By broadening the class of originations, we significantly expand the data set for searching for life.  We define life as the union of two crucial energetic and informatic processes producing an autonomous system that can metabolically extract and encode information from the environment of adaptive/survival value and propagate it forward through time. We provide a new perspective on the origin of life by arguing that life has emerged many times on Earth and that there are many forms of extant life coexisting on a variety of physical substrates. The ultimate theory of life will certainly have ingredients from abstract theories of engineering, computation, physics, and evolution, but we expect will also require new perspectives and tools, just as theories of computation have.  It should be able to highlight life as the ultimate homoplasy (convergence) rather than homology, where life is discovered repeatedly from many different trajectories.

Comment: I propose a perspective that celebrates life's diversity, manifested through a multitude of historical journeys. Within this lens, life's origins exhibit a fascinating complexity – they aren't bound to a singular, universal template. This opens up the realm of possibilities, suggesting that life has sprung forth through various channels on Earth. The notion of life as an encompassing homology gets a recalibration, shifting our focus toward an array of distinct birth events. In defining life, I distill it to the convergence of two fundamental processes: a dance of energy and information. These processes collaborate to give rise to autonomous systems capable of extracting and encoding valuable survival-oriented information from their environment. This wisdom, perpetuated through time, forms the core essence of life. In the exploration of life's origins, this presents a fresh vantage point that unveils a dynamic truth – life has emerged not once, but on multiple occasions on our planet. Consequently, the spectrum of living forms extends over various physical surfaces, accommodating a medley of extant life forms. This perspective redefines the discourse on life's genesis, urging us to acknowledge the existence of a thriving tapestry of life, each thread woven through distinct trajectories. Central to this paradigm is the idea that life thrives as a recurrent masterpiece of convergence, a tapestry of existence that finds expression through myriad pathways. Rather than a mere echo of a single blueprint, life emerges independently time and again, each instance a testimony to the creative act of a powerful intelligent creator.

A science forum was held at Arizona State University in February 2011, where the following dialogue between Dawkins and Venter was reported:

Venter: I'm not so sanguine as some of my colleagues here that there's only one life form on this planet we have a lot of different types of metabolism different organisms I wouldn't call you the same life-form as the one we have that lives in pH12 base that would dissolve your skin if we drop you at it. The same genetic it will have a common anything well you don't have the same genetic code in fact the micoplasmas use a different genetic code and it would not work  in yourself so there are a lot of variations on the unit
Dawkins: But you're not saying it belongs to a different tree of life from me
Venter: I well I think the Tree of Life is an artifact of some early scientific studies that aren't really holding up so the tree you know there may be a bush of life. Bush I don't like that word written but that's only I can see that so there's not a tree of life and in fact from our deep sequencing of organisms in the ocean out of now we have about 60 million different unique gene sets we found 12 that looked like a very very deep branching perhaps fourth domain of life that obviously is extremely rare that it only shows up out of those few sequences but it's still DNA based but you know the diversity we have in the DNA world I'm not so saying what in wedding ready to throw out the DNA world. 7 8

From the Last Universal Common Ancestor, LUCA, to Eukaryotic cells

C. Woese (2002): The evolution of modern cells is arguably the most challenging and important problem the field of Biology has ever faced9

G. E. Mikhailovsky (2021): It is puzzling why life on Earth consisted of prokaryotes for up to 2.5 ± 0.5 billion years (Gy) before the appearance of the first eukaryotes. This period, from LUCA (Last Universal Common Ancestor) to LECA (Last Eucaryotic Common Ancestor), we have named the Lucacene, to suggest all prokaryotic descendants of LUCA before the appearance of LECA. The structural diversity of eukaryotic organisms is very large, while the morphological diversity of prokaryotic cells is immeasurably lower.    10

1. Koonin, E.V., Dolja, V.V., Krupovic, M., Varsani, A., Wolf, Y.I., Yutin, N., Zerbini, F.M., & Kuhn, J.H. (2020). Global Organization and Proposed Megataxonomy of the Virus World. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews, 84(2). Link. (This comprehensive review delves into the proposed large-scale classification (megataxonomy) of viruses. It discusses the overall structure of the virus world and offers insights into the intricate relationships and evolutionary aspects of different viral groups.)
2.  Vincent Racaniello Viruses and the tree of life 19 March 2009
3. Krupovic, M., & Koonin, E.V. (2017). Multiple origins of viral capsid proteins from cellular ancestors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(12), E2401-E2410. Link. (This study explores the intriguing concept that viral capsid proteins might have multiple origins, arising from cellular predecessors. The research offers a new perspective on the evolution and origin of viruses and their structural components.)
4. Raup, D.M., & Valentine, J.W. (1983). Multiple origins of life. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 80(10), 2981-2984. Link. (In this paper, Raup and Valentine discuss the possibility of life having multiple origins, providing insights into the concept of polyphyly and the potential for separate life origination events.)

5. W. Ford Doolittle: Pattern pluralism and the Tree of Life hypothesis February 13, 2007
6. Douglas L. Theobald: A formal test of the theory of universal common ancestry 2010 
7. Youtube: Dr. Craig Venter Denies Common Descent in front of Richard Dawkins! 2011 
8. Evolution News: Venter vs. Dawkins on the Tree of Life — and Another Dawkins Whopper March 9, 2011
9. Carl R. Woese: On the evolution of cells June 19, 2002
10. George E. Mikhailovsky: LUCA to LECA, the Lucacene: A model for the gigayear delay from the first prokaryote to eukaryogenesis  1 April 2021


29Evolution: Common descent, the tree of life,  a failed hypothesis - Page 2 Empty Limited common descent Mon Sep 11, 2023 12:18 pm



Limited common descent

Limited Common Descent refers to the view that while organisms may share common ancestry within certain groups, not all living organisms necessarily derive from a single universal common ancestor. This concept suggests that there are boundaries or limits to the extent of common ancestry. For instance, proponents of limited common descent might accept that some birds share a common avian ancestor, or that some mammals can be traced back to a common mammalian ancestor, but deny that all birds or all mammals share a more distant common ancestor. Drawing a line in limited common descent can be more challenging, especially from a scientific perspective: One way is to look at physical and anatomical features. Organisms that are morphologically similar might be grouped together under a shared ancestor. However, this can be problematic as convergent evolution can lead to similar structures in unrelated species. DNA and protein sequences can provide more precise data. If two species have highly similar DNA sequences, it suggests a more recent common ancestor, whereas vast differences might imply separate ancestry. But, this method also has challenges. For example, horizontal gene transfer can blur these lines, especially in microbial organisms. Species that cannot interbreed and produce viable, fertile offspring are considered separate species. This might be used as a benchmark for determining distinct lines of descent. The appearance and sequence of forms in the fossil record can also provide clues about common ancestry and the divergence of lineages. The distribution of species across different geographic regions can also provide insights into their evolutionary history. However, the drawing of a definitive line is often a matter of debate and interpretation. Different proponents of limited common descent might draw the line at different places based on their interpretations of the evidence and any philosophical or theological views they might hold.

Challenges in Defining Species

Determining the boundaries between species—often referred to as the "species problem"—is a topic of ongoing debate and discussion in biology. While the concept of a species is fundamental to biology and conservation, defining what constitutes a species is not straightforward. The biological species concept (BSC) proposed by Ernst Mayr, is perhaps the most well-known species concept. It defines species as groups of interbreeding natural populations that are reproductively isolated from other such groups. However, this definition is challenging to apply to organisms that reproduce asexually and doesn't account for potential hybridization in nature. The morphological species concept defines species based on measurable anatomical criteria. However, there can be considerable morphological variation within a species, making it difficult to determine where one species ends and another begins. The ecological species concept is defined based on their ecological niche. Two populations might be considered separate species if they exploit different ecological roles. Yet, this concept can be difficult to apply consistently across different organisms and environments. The genetic species concept defines species based on genetic similarity or dissimilarity. With advances in DNA sequencing technologies, it's becoming more common to use genetic data to inform species delineations. However, deciding on the degree of genetic difference that demarcates species remains a challenge. In nature, closely related species can sometimes interbreed and produce hybrid offspring. This phenomenon can blur the lines between species, challenging strict definitions that rely on reproductive isolation. Cryptic species are groups of species that are genetically distinct but morphologically indistinguishable. Only with genetic analysis can these species usually be differentiated, which complicates species identification based solely on morphology. Speciation is a process, and at any given time, populations may be at different stages in that process. This continuum makes it hard to determine when two populations have diverged enough to be considered separate species. Some species might have interbred in the past but are currently reproductively isolated due to various factors. Determining species boundaries in such cases can be complex. Given these challenges, some biologists argue for a more pluralistic approach to species definition, wherein the concept of species is context-dependent. For practical reasons, however, many conservation and regulatory efforts require clear species delineations, making the species problem a significant concern in biology.




Hemimastigotes are more different from all other living things than animals are from fungi.
This is an electron microscope image of Hemimastix kukwesjijk, named after Kukwes, a greedy, hairy ogre from Mi'kmaq mythology. Its 'mouth' or capitulum is on the left.
Canadian researchers have discovered a new kind of organism that's so different from other living things that it doesn't fit into the plant kingdom, the animal kingdom, or any other kingdom used to classify known organisms.
Two species of the microscopic organisms, called hemimastigotes, were found in dirt collected on a whim during a hike in Nova Scotia by Dalhousie University graduate student Yana Eglit.
A genetic analysis shows they're more different from other organisms than animals and fungi (which are in different kingdoms) are from each other, representing a completely new part of the tree of life....
For full article please see:


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