February 10, 2015 What is symbiosis?  Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan sell it as a kinder, gentler form of species evolution in contrast to Darwin’s bloody tooth and claw scenario.  Is this so?  One organism penetrates the boundary of another thus violating many contemporary legal principles, among them, breaking and entering, kidnapping, assault, thievery as the symbiont seeks safety, food, energy from the host.  This is “kinder” than traditional Darwinism?

  1. The invader may bring an advantage to the party but this does not erase the original crimes.  The entire Margulis assertion of symbiosis is based on action that can easily be interpreted as invasion and thievery, thus violation not cooperation.  That the invader might make itself useful to the host after one or one hundred million years doesn’t undo violation number one, the first move breaks Commandments
  2. Margulis tries to sell her theory as cooperation opposed to Darwinian competition.  I see her countless scenarios of one becoming two as invasion, transgression, violation.  It results in progress for both she says.  The organism is “improved” as the two organisms now work now as one - a friendly team.
  3. Like a rapist saying to a woman “Work with me on this - it’ll be good for both of us”  - hey rapist was right - the child of violence was great grandmother x 10,000 to a Scholastic high school art award gold medal winner.
  4. Advice to Margulis - best to leave the touchy-feeling, feel good tint out of the argument for organism combination, though the theory itself makes perfect sense, the happy circumstance is debatable.
  5. In two of her books on the subject “Symbiotic Planet” and “Microcosmos” Margulis uses the example of one largish bacterium being penetrated by a single smaller bacterium for a positive outcome - always only a single guest-invader who makes the host better off.  In case after case after case there is always a happy host who eventually, somehow creates a membrane around its own previously free-floating DNA ( bacteria have no nucleus-thus: eukaryotic) that now contains some DNA from guest who has stayed for more than three days and the two become one organism with a nucleus - a paradigm shifting event in the evolution of life on Earth.
  6. JBT ( Jim Blake theory)  The large bacterium is attacked by two smaller bacteria - meaner, harder than host, like Perry and Dick invading the Clutter household in Capote’s “In Cold Blood”  These two little meanies want to steal the cell membrane of the big guy because it has the ability to filter out poisonous new molecule in the air - oxygen !  A poison in primordial times ( 2 billion years ago), they will die if they don’t find refuge soon.
  7. Margulis is always fuzzy on the formation of the new nucleus after “symbiosis” she always assumes that the host retains its identity and is happy about the new situation AND this happy scenario, as opposed to “red in tooth and claw” Darwin plays out all over and for all time - it’s the way of the world to her.
  8. OK, here’s what really happened.  Two invaders instead of the single new friend penetrate the membrane of the big oxygen resistant “host” they immediately dissolve the hosts DNA into small usable codons.  The cell now has it’s nucleus. IT’S LITTLE DICKIE !  It is not some magic new nucleus formed around the host’s happy DNA - the host is now history - out of the loop - selected against, extinct perhaps, so much clutter if not ejected altogether by the old membrane’s two new owners.
  9. Little Perry happens to be the energy package that can produce lots of ATP.  he immediately begins to reproduce inside old hosts membrane and big Dick takes care of the multiplication of the overall works - no need for new nuclear membrane to evolve - it is present at the creation.
  10. Two billion years ago there were millions of species of bacteria that had been evolving since shortly after to coalescense of the Earth itself from orbiting particles say 4 billion years ago ( 4BYA)
  11. By the time Perry-mitoch ( call him Mitoch for mitochondria - the energy pak) and Dick-A ( “A” to sort him from other bacteria species “B” “C” etc) invaded poor Clutter-Host there were 100,000 species of bacteria on Earth maybe more - 99% anaerobic ( oxygen is waste, poison to them)
  12. One thousand of these Dicks teamed up with Mitochs and invaded viable ( oxygen tolerant softies) tolerant hosts, all eviscerating hosts DNA ( but saving the genes for oxygen use)  they formed 1,000 new species of eukaryotes, precursors to 1,000 perhaps a million or 10 million different species of plants and animals.
  13. This was a violent predatory process like most of evolutionary activity - the beginning of life as we know it - all plants, al animals, fungi and molds i.e. all life composed of cells with nuclei
  14. If two can invade a cell, why not three or a gang of four?
  15. Perhaps all five “symbionts”  were smashed into one another as they crowded together several feet deep in an ancient tideflat that was struck by a meteor.  Every single one of millions of hadean airstrikes smashed bacteria together all over the globe killing most of the ones under the impact but causing some interesting combos in the ones just a bit deeper,  for better and for worse till death do them part.
  16. Getting stomped by a dinosaur foot crushes ten thousand bacteria together breaking many membranes, cresting a stomp-goop of cellular material that has an unexpected opportunity to recombine n random, accidental and ultimately fruitful ways.
  17. A rock falls from a cliff creating a mortar-pestle effect for mixing and matching bacterial DNA.  How many times did a rock calve and fall into soft bacteria filled ground for drop-goop.  surrounding bacteria not affected by the rockfall see a feast of nutrient no longer protected by hard bacterial membrane - DNA, RNA - protein!  Try the bacteria mash-up-re-combo experiment in a lab near you.
  18. In primordial sea there was a gang comprising four bacteria: proto-ER ( endoplasmic reticulum) proto-Golgi, proto-ribo ( ribosome) and the leader, the little napoleon of the bunch, the incredible energy package proto-mitochondrion, many had a proto-plastid and they became photosynthetic plants.
  19. This gang invaded thousands, millions of the big, fat, lazy oxygen loungers launching a million new species of beetle, fly, lizard, frog, cat, dog, dinosaur, ape, pine tree, orchid, prairie grass.
  20. Bottom line JBT - Every one of today’s plant and animal species is the result of primordial bacterial speciation.  The big explosion in speciation was 2BYA not 540MYA.  The big speciation (TBS) began when oxygen first became a noticeable toxin to anaerobic bacteria 2 BYA, not as oxygen became its current and prehistoric  full 20% of the atmosphere at 540MYA.
  21. It is said that 99.9% of all species that ever lived are now extinct.  The clade-fan beginning with the  emergence of eukaryotes is now shown as mostly dead ends.  NO - the clade-fan ( at least that for multi-cell organisms)  is 99.9% continuous as all plants and animals can trace their history for 2 billion years back to bacterial speciation.
  • 4:00 pm  2/10/15