ATP synthase motors have been a major focus surrounding intelligent design. These motors are in every cell in humans and animals, it’s what keeps us alive! The research has been of great value to creationism as well. Scientists continue to unravel the finer details on how it works!
The bacterium used in this study is able to live in high degree of alkaline water. Alkaline water is a term that is use when the pH is above a certain amount of pH. Neutral levels are 7. pH 7 which is the drinking water we normally drink. The limit of alkaline is pH 14. There is no way we can drink water with pH 14, it will destroy our body. However pH levels 8 to 10 help neutralize and balance the pH contained in our body.
The bacterium was found to live in pH 11 which is strongly alkalinic. This organism has different specs in its design to help it cope with the special conditions. It has unique a-subunit, latent activity, and, most significantly, a modified c-ring with more subunits that contain a different shape. The c-ring is the primary rotor. Most living organisms have ten subunits but B. pseudofirmus, there are 13 subunits while other organisms have 11 or 15, and some run on sodium ions, Na+, instead of protons.
“This work shows a new type of proton coordination in an F1F0 synthase rotor ring…. It is evident that the coordination network of the water itself… is a stabilizing and therefore a structural part of this c-ring. The presence of the water has been shown to enhance the Na+-binding affinity in the Na+-binding c11 ring [in organisms with 11 c-subunits].”
“Given this observation we propose that the water in the c13 ring binding pocket also enhances the proton affinity. High affinity rotor binding sites are of central importance for all ATP synthases but are especially important for ATP synthases of bacteria that grow in alkaline environments…. Perhaps the novel manner in which a water participates in proton binding is also a consequence of adaptation of the ATP synthase to alkaliphily [adaptation to alkaline environments].” -PLOS Biology
Interesting to note, evolution was mentioned four times in this particular paper. One statement mentioned the lack of evolution, “This commonality of binding pattern underlines the evolutionary and functionally conserved relationship between the pmf- and smf-driven systems.” Two other statements just assumed the motor evolved without much of an explanation. And the last, it was merely a “fleeting suggestion” with no proposals of half or part of a ATP synthase that could be considered primitive ancestors! The reason, it has to be completely functional in order for it to work!
The design of this species was purposeful in order for it to survive in such a harsh environment that left no room for a slow process to develope in order for it to survive! As far as contributions from evolution in this research, one cannot find connections to the motivation, investigation, or the findings in the paper itself. Why? Because purposeful engineering only makes sense on how things work in nature!