Bacteria Experiment Fails Evolutionary Expectations

Mutations are a significance importance for demonstrating how evolution works in nature. They play a role in bacterial adaptation and transformation to changing environments. Bacterial antibiotic resistance is an example and often times used as evolution in action. Mutations, some of which use information from other bacteria enable the organism to survive exposure to various antibiotics, but with a cost. This is known as antagonistic pleiotropy. The mutant bacteria suffers a loss or reduction of pre-existing activities such as regulatory, or transport systems.

Peter A. Lind, Otto G. Berg, and Dan I. Andersson from Uppsala University conducted an experiment on Salmonella bacterium which was published recently in Science

“A total of 126 random base-pair substitutions were engineered into the rpsT and rplA genes, encoding the ribosomal proteins S20 and L1, respectively (22). These two proteins are nonessential, but deletion mutants lacking either of these ribosomal proteins have severely reduced fitness.”

“Thus, putative mutational effects on fitness can be measured over a large range, and the fitness of complete loss-of-function mutations is known and is larger than zero. We used bacterial growth rate to measure the fitness effects of the mutations. The involvement of ribosomal proteins in translation and the direct relation of translation rates to exponential growth rates (23) ensure that fitness effects will be directly correlated to the quality and quantity of available ribosomes.”

The scientists had the flexibility to insert mutations in any area along the length of the genome. The results surprised these evolutionary scientists and others because it caused a reduction in fitness rather than an increase which evolution requires. It’s similar to the fruit fly experiment which took 35 years.

“These small fitness costs suggest that the fitness constraints on the mRNA for the two ribosomal protein genes are highly conserved between related bacterial species and that this functional conservation is largely independent of codon usage.”

This confirms the creationist model which predicts life staying relatively the same (variants within a kind) or a downward trend as the result of mutation activity.  Evolutionary explanations lack the ability (despite declaring as a fact) to provide evidence for a genetic mechanism that accounts for the origin or expansion of biological systems which is why their experiments produce falsifications rather than opening a pathway to new information.  However, researching how mutations work play a vital role for understanding diseases and how to combat its effect on people to improve the quality of life. This is where science will be more successful.

9 thoughts on “Bacteria Experiment Fails Evolutionary Expectations

  1. Michael will not, of course, tell us whence he plagiarized this summary of the Science paper. But we know that he did, because he refuses to tell us what qualifications he may have to report on any aspect of science whatever. When we remember that Michael falsely thought that copper and other trace minerals in fossil bones were “soft tissue,” when he is convinced that computer simulations are programmed always to produce the desired results, when he can’t tell a chasepot rifle from a javelin—then we know that he is either colossally ignorant or intentionally lying to us.

    Occasionally we attempt to probe Michael’s understanding with simple little questions, but he never responds. We have another opportunity here. This is a test to determine whether Michael has even read the Science paper. Michael’s anonymous source writes, in connection with high functional conservation of the studied proteins, that “this functional conservation is largely independent of codon usage.” Michael, what does this statement mean? As it is described elsewhere in the paper.

    We have a small wager going here. My money says Michael won’t respond at all; Upson Downes claims Michael doesn’t have the foggiest idea; and Soc Puppette bets on his friend Dom failing to ride to his rescue.

  2. Michael: “Mutations, some of which use information from other bacteria [sic] enable the organism to survive exposure to various antibiotics,…”

    Michael really hashed that one up. Mutations do not use “information” from other bacteria. High-school biology students all [1] know that mutations arise from copying errors when the bacterium divides, or from environmental insults such as radiation or chemicals.

    Michael believes that “information” is the magic elixir of biology. If he repeats the word often enough, someone, somewhere might be impressed. But, so far…


    [1] At least, the ones who are not home-schooled through the True Bible Believers Church..

  3. Antagonistic pleiotropy only seems surprising to Michael. He apparently believes that nothing should have a cost, or that everything can be made perfect all at once. But, if we think of all other fields of endeavor, this is actually a general principle. If we want a fast car, it will be less economical, by burning more fuel. The benefit of power costs energy—gasoline controls both speed and cost. An automotive form of antagonistic pleiotropy!

    Pleiotropy arises frequently in evolution, because it is unguided and opportunistic. One of the major sources of evolutionary novelty occurs when a protein that performs one function acquires another as well. For example, opsin proteins, which sense light in animal eyes, are found in bacteria, which of course have no eyes. The bacteria use them to signal other bacteria, and unrelated function. That’s why humans have opsins in their livers, which obviously do not sense light.

    Antagonistic pleiotropy can arise here because the form of an opsin that is best for light detection in the eye may differ from the form that is optimum for q different function in the liver. In other words, you just can’t have it all, Michael, even in evolution. Why would anyone think that this is an exception to the general rule that you can’t optimize for everything simultaneously?

    Every designer knows that.

  4. Michael’s puerile understanding of evolution seems to believe that finding anything that does not change is a falsification of evolution in general.

    The Science paper states: ““These small fitness costs suggest that the fitness constraints on the mRNA for the two ribosomal protein genes are highly conserved between related bacterial ”

    From this Michael leaps to the non sequitur that “This confirms the creationist model which predicts life staying relatively the same’

    Kirschner & Gerhart’s “The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin’s Dilemma” explains it best. It addresses the question of how variation is produced. The evidence shows that certain core processes “many of which have been conserved for hundreds of millions or even billions of years, have very special characteristics that facilitate evolutionary change. They have been conserved not merely because change in them would be lethal,… but because they have repeatedly facilitated change of certain kinds around them.” (p. 35)

    That is, evolution requires stasis as well as change. Again, this parallels experience in other fields. We see new car models every year, with new features and technology. Yet, if the 2011 Belchfire XL required a gasoline blend different from other cars, or different from last year’s models, it would go extinct as surely as would a Salmonella whose ribosomal proteins were not highly conserved across generations. In the same simile, the new Belchfire may have a mutated engine that injects the gasoline in a stratified form—but the basic combustion process remains unchanged.

    This week’s pickings must be slim indeed if this paper is the best Michael’s eminence grise can find to prop up the carcass of creationism.

  5. “Bacteria Experiment Fails Evolutionary Expectations”

    To follow up on the last comment, Michael’s title for this post is indeed puzzling. Michael, please inform us as to exactly which “expectation” of evolution was not fulfilled in this experiment.

    I thought not.

    The motivation for this experiment was the recently increased sensitivity of methods for detecting distributions of fitness effects (DFE). That is, the authors were able to measure very small increases and decreases in DFE that had heretofore escaped detection, and had thus been classified as having zero effect on fitness.

    The authors studied two ribosomal proteins. These are significant because the ribosome is essential to almost every function of a cell, so that defects that render it incapable of functioning will always destroy the cell. Mutations can—not necessarily will, but can—interfere with the ribosome’s function. The question the authors addressed was Does the ribosome keep on truckin’ when it keeps on a-changin’.

    The answer was YES. Now there’s no point in publishing a journal paper if you merely find what everyone expects to find. Bo–ring. So there is a surprise. The unexpected result was that the ribosome keeps on working even though almost all of the mutations to these proteins’ structures were mildly deleterious[1]—the ribosome is so robust that it will survive the vast majority of dents and dings that get thrown its way.

    What this paper thus demonstrates is that the ribosome is a vehicle for evolution, rather than a failure, as Michael would have it. It is capable of perpetuating its core process despite the evolution of other functions around it.[2] Here again, Michael proves his opponent’s point, not his own.[3] .


    [1] In fact, the change in fitness seemed independent of whether a particular mutation was synonymous or not. For creationists’ benefit, a “synonymous” change in a protein’s DNA code does not affect the structure of the protein. Stated in other words, mildly deleterious changes seemed to have no more effect than purely neutral changes. Now that is surprising.

    [2] For example a mutation may code for a novel protein. That protein must be assembled by the ribosome, just as any other protein. The demonstrated imperiousness of the ribo-proteins thus guarantees that the mutation that produced the new protein will not also (remember pleiotropy??) affect the apparatus that must assemble it.

    [3] And, in the spirit of science, it suggests further research: What are the characteristics of these proteins (or of the ribosome as a whole) that confer this benefit of surviving so many insults? Research builds upon research. Creationism does not enjoy this advantage, since its “findings” crumble whenever others try to stand on them to reach higher, or to investigate their consequences.

  6. Michael: “The results surprised these evolutionary scientists and others because it caused a reduction in fitness rather than an increase which evolution requires.”

    As usual, Michael gets it all wrong.

    Everyone else knows that the great majority of mutations are deleterious. Only creationists seem to think that evolution requires otherwise.

    The previous comment describes what the actual surprise was.

  7. According to Michael, everything fails evolutionary expectations…..even when the results are what are expected, it still is evidence against… How can one argue from that?

    –In a nutshell: The reason why I have not commented as frequently…

  8. Krissmith777: “In a nutshell: The reason why I have not commented as frequently”

    Still, find it entertaining to read the papers myself, and to figure out why Michael is wrong. One does not actually need a deep knowledge for this purpose. Most of the time, he has read something wrong, missed the point, or relied upon sensationist hyperbole.[1] Even when some technical error is involved, Michael frequently gets the most basic science wrong, such as calling copper traces “soft tissue,” or describing zinc as a “complex chemical structure.” Or elementary misinterpretations of evolution, as in this post. Michael apparently believes that not looking at evolution will make it go away.

    The problem is that creationist lurkers who are also unlettered in science may actually be taken in by Michael’s egregious errors. Thus, it is not enough merely to laugh and say he’s wrong. In what ways is Michael ignorant or lying to his readers? Either could be the case.[2] We know that many creationists make elementary mistakes that a mere smattering of knowledge would overturn. On the other hand, there are deliberate prevaricators such as Andrew Snelling, the geologist who thumps for young Earth when writing for AiG, but also writes reviewed papers asserting a 4.5By old earth.[3] These are the professional “Liars for Jesus.”


    [1] Even though he purports to decry it: “Sensationalism In The Stories Relating To Science”. What a laugh!

    [2] We will not know which until Michael reveals to us his qualifications, or lack thereof.

    [3] And now we have yet another two-faced creationist. Marcus Ross, a newly minted PhD, teaches young-earth paleontology at Liberty University, but recently made a seminar presentation giving evidence for dating Cretaceous ammonite fossils at 140 million years ago. When caught out, he said “When I speak at young earth creationist meetings I use a different framework than when I speak at the Geological Society of America meeting.” Uh-huh. Even Michael should be leery of this guy.

  9. The Science paper surely is an interesting one. Just forget about the blurb from Michael …

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