PZ Myers: Basics: How can chromosome numbers change?

| 29 Comments

On Pharyngula, PZ Myers treats us with an incredibly accessible explanation why chromosome number can change.

The posting was in response to an email PZ received about the evolution of chromosome numbers.

How did life evolve from one (I suspect) chromosome to… 64 in horses, or whatever organism you want to pick. How is it possible for a sexually reproducing population of organisms to change chromosome numbers over time?

Firstly: there would have to be some benefit to the replication probability of the organisms which carry the chromosomes

Secondly, the extra chromosomes need to come from somewhere. I’m not sure about this, but I believe chromosome number are not determined by genes, are they? …

PZ presents us with an outstanding overview of the science involved and shows us how good science can help address the questions raised by those interested in biological science as well as address the misrepresentations of science by creationism.

29 Comments

So could we at least calculate the DNA of the common ancestor to the chimps and the humnas? Even if we could not construct one today, may be sometime in the future we could, (warning: pun ahead) conceivably construct it and may even bring to life in a borrowed chimp womb. Would that be ethical to bring to life an Australopithecus africanus?

For the viewers of this post that have not clicked through to Pharyngula to read this tutorial, you are missing a well written, easy to understand description.

It is one thing to write a treatise on this stuff, it is quite another to write one that people like me can clearly understand and eagerly read to its finish without my eyes glazing over.

Thank you PZ.

If only there were some employment opportunity somewhere in the world where PZ could help with the public understanding of science.

Chromosomal numbers can vary within the same species. This number is very plastic. Mice colonized Madeira 1000 years ago and the 6 populations all have varying karyotypes. This is fast in evolutionary terms.

Same thing is observed in Tunisian mice. The latter are thought to be undergoing speciation, driven in part by karyotypic differences and lower fitness in hybrids.

Genet Res. 2005 Dec;86(3):171-83. Epub 2005 Nov 23. Links Chromosomal phylogeny of Robertsonian races of the house mouse on the island of Madeira: testing between alternative mutational processes.Britton-Davidian J, Catalan J, da Graça Ramalhinho M, Auffray JC, Claudia Nunes A, Gazave E, Searle JB, da Luz Mathias M. Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution, UMR 5554, Laboratoire Génétique et Environnement, CC65, Université Montpellier II, France. The ancestral karyotype of the house mouse (Mus musculus) consists of 40 acrocentric chromosomes, but numerous races exist within the domesticus subspecies characterized by different metacentric chromosomes formed by the joining at the centromere of two acrocentrics.

An exemplary case is present on the island of Madeira where six highly divergent chromosomal races have accumulated different combinations of 20 metacentrics in 500-1000 years.

Chromosomal cladistic phylogenies were performed to test the relative performance of Robertsonian (Rb) fusions, Rb fissions and whole-arm reciprocal translocations (WARTs) in resolving relationships between the chromosomal races. The different trees yielded roughly similar topologies, but varied in the number of steps and branch support. The analyses using Rb fusions/fissions as characters resulted in poorly supported trees requiring six to eight homoplasious events. Allowance for WARTs considerably increased nodal support and yielded the most parsimonious trees since homoplasy was reduced to a single event. The WART-based trees required five to nine WARTs and 12 to 16 Rb fusions. These analyses provide support for the role of WARTs in generating the extensive chromosomal diversification observed in house mice. The repeated occurrence of Rb fusions and WARTs highlights the contribution of centromere-related rearrangements to accelerated rates of chromosomal change in the house mouse.

raven,

The Madeira mice are not unusual. In fact over 100 populations of mice have been identified in western Europe with Robertsonian fusion chromosmes. A common phenomenon.

Changes to molecular/atomic structures of the ‘control’ centers of living things are brought about through procedures of physical chemistry, of which modern technology has barely caught a glimpse. Having said that, we may note that modern technology is giving some very strong hints. Once the hints evolve to solid facts, and the actual hands-on physical chemistry is known, the evolution debate will fade away and science will then be free to go on without people claiming science as their own personal justification for anything - except technologic facts.

Rain causes seeds to strike. Time allows eggs to hatch. Warmth increases the speed with which some things grow. Rain, warmth, and time are factors in the evidencing of life. They do not create life. Chromosomes and many other micro-structures change as a result of environmental factors. Just like seeds, eggs, maggots - they are influenced by environment. The environment neither creates them, nor, purely of itself, modifies them. Information capacity inherent in the structures, interacting with the environment, enables change.

SCIENCEDAILY, today, features an exciting article on quantum information systems. A primitive quantum technology information system has been employed in an election in Switzerland. Chromosomes and what have you theoretically are modifiable via technology of this category. New developments are being catalogued, almost daily. These new developments tell us that information technology is right there - in the cell.

The wind, the sun, the rain - all were factors in chromosome change. The change happened when atoms were re-arranged according to quantifiable processes of physics. When the physicists give the mathematically expressible pathway, all contention will cease. I’d suggest getting in early. Mathematics is neither personal, political, contentious, nor religious. But the cause of change in the biosphere will no longer be unquantified chance, but hands-on, quantifiable, information technology. Suit oneself as to whether the information arrived by chance or design - it will be unnecessary to demand either option. The latter option, however, is not ‘expelled’. Origins science returns to neutral ground, where it always should have been.

Timecube Phil:

Chromosomes and what have you theoretically are modifiable via technology of this category.

See, this is where otherwise reasonable statements of the painfully obvious deteriorate into meaningless gibberish. You mean we can use quantum technology to modify “chromosomes and what have you”? Anyone who really knew what they were talking about wouldn’t be so vague.

These new developments tell us that information technology is right there - in the cell.

Now where the heck did that assertion come from? It’s certainly not supported by anything you’ve claimed thus far.

The change happened when atoms were re-arranged according to quantifiable processes of physics.

Back to the obvious. Tell this to the magical-thinking crowd.

“Neutral ground”? Tell that to the fundie nutters. Reasonable people, religious or not, have been saying “we don’t know, yet”, all along.

And for the nth effing time, MET is not origins science. Get a clue, please, Phil. Thank you.

Dear PT readers.

Please ignore Philip Heywood. He has had his garbage corrected several times in the past month or two, and refuses to acknowledge those corrections. He refuses to acknowledge and address his ignorance of biology. Yet he also refuses to recognise the expertise of the experts.

I no longer believe that PBH is an honest seeker of answers.

I didn’t write SCIENCEDAILY, SPACEDAILY, NEWSCIENTIST, ETC. ETC.. Scientists did. Evolutionary scientists, many of them. These scientists advize me that DNA has a database of four. That’s multiple database, that’s quantum information category. According to evolutionists - which one assumes some attendees on this site wish to be - DNA and other micro-devices in cells, are programmable and re-programmable. If not, evolution could not happen. H bonds (not bombs) in water are pivotal to the functioning and re-programming of these micro-devices. Photons, which are a form of matter, information, and energy, all at once, theoretically can be utilized to re-arrange atoms in such devices. Quantum physics. Rational science. Find how environmental conditions are read by the devices, and keep Darwin’s ball rolling. Dust doesn’t give birth to lice, it only appears that way. Get out the microscope and find out what really happens.

Nigel D Wrote:

Dear PT readers.

Please ignore Philip Heywood. He has had his garbage corrected several times in the past month or two, and refuses to acknowledge those corrections. He refuses to acknowledge and address his ignorance of biology. Yet he also refuses to recognise the expertise of the experts.

PBH is behaving like a sleazy shake-oil salesman who refuses to take his foot out of the door.

In fact, PBH is starting to look like as creepy as a stalking sexual predator.

Instead of repeating all the deconstruction of his crap each time he posts, we will just provide convenient links to the places where this was done.

The central theme of PBH’s pseudo-science is that “superconduction” plus gravitation and the Sun-Earth-Moon system provides the “information” that is transmitted to DNA by photons.

An outline of his pseudo-science was given here and further expanding upon here using excerpts from his site.

His pseudo-science and tactics are deconstructed here.

PBH has also been provided with references and books to correct his pseudo-science, but he has steadfastly refused to take any advice. Instead he attempts to segue every thread into a discussion of his crap.

A copy of this post with its links is now being kept at the ready for every time PBH attempts to push his crap into the discussion.

I recently visited PBH’s site. What a bizarre collection of rubbish! I was particularly taken by ‘the sun, moon and earth are implicated in an [sic] highly sophisticated intelligence storage and transmission system.’

PBH said: These scientists advize me that DNA has a database of four. That’s multiple database, that’s quantum information category.

Man, you are daft! The DNA genome is classic information. Conversely, my laptop has several basic registers with multiple states without them harboring quantum information.

You don’t know digital information if it bit you.

I’ts a wonder this trio isn’t standing for President. Mr. Elzinga denies classical thermodynamics (his previous entries show he does not allow an entropy barrier to certain chemical processes, contrary to centuries of accumulated research results!): Mr Simons has just now thrown mud on standard evolutionary thinking - namely, that environment, to which the sun, moon, and earth, are pivotal, do not in some as yet not fully understood way, impart information into the biosphere (some animals orient themselves and migrate courtesy of the effect on light, of our magnetic field): and Mr. Larrson, having previously trashed the work of respected historians and researchers alike, as he saw fit, now relegates the landmark deductions of Dr. Glover over at IBM to the same trash can, and shows without a glimmer of uncertainty that NEWSCIENTIST is edited by ditherers.

Perhaps we should all do a low CONGEE, and remove ourselves backwards from the godalmighty presence of such august genius?

PBH Wrote:

Perhaps we should all do a low CONGEE, and remove ourselves backwards from the godalmighty presence of such august genius?

Sorry; but genuflection from a fraud doesn’t get any absolution. You need to get your head on straight.

PBH’s entire last comment is a classic example of his anger management issues. It reveals all the seething hatred and jealousy pseudo-science frauds typically direct at people who have put in the honest time and effort needed to understand things rather than just fake it.

Just as Keith did when he got hailed, and just like all pseudo-science crackpots, PBH is now resorting to bluffing, bluster, insults, and name-calling while trying to direct attention away from his stupid mixture of pseudo-science and sectarian religion.

Note also that he is starting to hedge his pseudo-science by attempting to make subtle changes in the meaning of what he has posted at his site.

The more he does it, the stupider and dafter he looks. It simply adds to his profile.

Here is a hint for you, PBH; you have wasted most of your life on pure bullshit. You would gain far more respect if, instead of bluffing, you actually admitted you need to learn a few things and began consulting those references you were directed to (I’ve studied all of them and much more; they are excellent resources). No one here is going to hold your hand or do it for you.

Your anger is really due to the fact that you cannot hide from the lie you are living. Your bullshit pseudo-science is so childish that even those non-experts posting here can see it. And you can’t begin to understand what it looks like to an expert.

Oh, Mike, stop tippy-toeing and tell us what you really think. :-)

fnxtr said:

Oh, Mike, stop tippy-toeing and tell us what you really think. :-)

LOL.

Well, I figured I should remain in cuddly teddy bear mode just in case PBH is only doing a goofy parody.

Otherwise, he has flunked pretty much all of physics, chemistry and biology; in which case he apparently has no friends who are honest enough to tell him. Perhaps some directness is needed, but, unfortunately, sectarian beliefs usually trump reality.

Correction: that’s Grover, not Glover. Lov. Grover. I assume he holds at least a Ph.D.. NEW SCIENTIST, 15TH April, 2000. Page 21 and following. Recommend it. Why is that word, Grover, troubling the subconscious? The mysteries of life.

Philip Bruce Heywood said: [blah, blah, blah] entropy barrier

No one has observed such a thing …

Philip Bruce Heywood said: [blah, blah, blah] impart information into the biosphere

… no, not that either …

Philip Bruce Heywood said: Mr. Larrson, having previously trashed the work of respected historians and researchers alike, as he saw fit, now relegates the landmark deductions of Dr. Glover over at IBM to the same trash can, and shows without a glimmer of uncertainty that NEWSCIENTIST is edited by ditherers.

… and this is just more [blah, blah, blah] … - or at least I can’t seem to find any comments relating to the above slander.

Really, is self destruct the best defense you could come up with to defend your precious sensitivity? Because, trust me, it doesn’t defend any sanity of yours.

Congratulations, PBH! You are misquoting again. I made absolutely no mention of ‘information’.

When are you going to get around to apologizing to J Biggs and I for lying about what we said?

BTW. That’s Dr. Simons to you.

Richard Simons said:

Congratulations, PBH! You are misquoting again. I made absolutely no mention of ‘information’.

When are you going to get around to apologizing to J Biggs and I for lying about what we said?

BTW. That’s Dr. Simons to you.

I thought he was going to get around to explaining what an entropy barrier is?

Philip Bruce Heywood said: Lov. Grover.

Oh, Lov Grover as in Grover’s algorithm. NS is pay-per-view, but the visible portion of the text refers to Patel. I assume it refers to Patel’s hypotheses here.

This isn’t mainstream science. (As the odd placement in a Physics and Astronomy journal suggests - what were the referees thinking?)

It is well known that decoherence is too rapid for large cellular components such as chromosomes or possibly ribosomes to effect anything else than standard chemical interactions (I refer you to Tegmark’s paper on decoherence under biological conditions); Patel has to propose a mechanism to circumvent this; and in 7-8 years no one seems to have confirmed this part or any other of his hypothesis despite that “experimental tests that can verify” it is claimed. [Disclaimer - I couldn’t access the paper in a readable format.]

How is this attempt of empirical science “landmark”, “deductions” or “of Dr. Glover [sic]”? And yes, it is also pretty well known that NS nowadays is edited by “ditherers” as it were, pandering to sensationalist readership instead of scientists. Are you claiming you didn’t know this? It is pretty basic to know one’s sources.

On a related note, it is yet again apparent how well Tegmark’s paper corresponds as a basic “talkorigins” reference debunking old and tired repeated ad nauseam quantum woo of PBH’s type.

For example, trying to track Patel’s work I stumbled on a many author paper that was “out there”, surpassing PBH in fact. They discussed quantum soliton waves that quantum magically teleported “read of” information from the DNA to everywhere they felt it “needed”, i.e. where their ignorance was situated. It wasn’t quite readable, but you just wave Tegmark’s reference at it and it disappears in a Poof! of hot vapors until it proves itself.

Btw, I’m amazed that PBH missed that obvious woo trick. After all, quantum teleportation is a real phenomena. :-P

Richard Simons Wrote:

Congratulations, PBH! You are misquoting again. I made absolutely no mention of ‘information’.

He has also tried to distort what I have said and attribute to me statements I haven’t made as I keep trying to get him to define what he means by “entropy barrier”.

This appears to be a standard technique used by all ID/Creationists. They try to provoke scientists into explaining something and then proceed to quote-mine and distort everything the scientist says. PBH is also doing that with the articles he claims he is reading on the Internet.

Keith Eaton’s taunting is designed to do this also (he is a disciple of Duane Gish; not Jesus). Keith claims he is an expert in thermodynamics, but he also has all the standard misconceptions found in ID/Creationists. Now he just blusters, taunts and name-calls.

This is why I resist explaining anything to an ID/Creationist. Their apparent objective is to make themselves look educated by riding on the backs of scientists and appearing to defeat the scientists by faking a “profound depth and breadth of understanding of science”. It is the infamous Gish tactic of spouting gibberish to taunt scientists into debating with them. Their followers can’t tell who is lying, so they assume the scientist is the evil one.

I just profile them. It provides lurkers with an outline of the tactics typically used by ID/Creationists. Most ID/Creationists seem to work from a script.

Keep it simple, keep it simple. Someone may actually be interested in the topic.

I note fnxtr’s more detached previous comment. Stepping back and thinking goes a long way in science. I wish I could start handing out detached thinking badges, right now.

Dr. Simons: Intelligence, in my OXFORD CONCISE DICTIONARY, has information listed as a meaning. Your other claims, regarding lying on my part, are based on similar nit-pick, as any reader of these pages can find out for themselves.

M. Elzinga: I shall once again attempt to explain the basic high-school concept of entropy to you. Consider a simple endothermic reaction such as dissolution of urea in water. The reaction site gets cold. Something inherent in the urea makes it so ‘desperate’ to get disordered, through dissolving, that heat is absorbed. As you know, making things cold requires energy. Refrigerators require energy. In the case of endothermic reactions, entropy - having to do with organization, if you like - overrides enthalpy - having to do with raw heat energy content - and powers the reagents into increased disorder, despite the need to draw in heat from the remainder of the universe. Classical entropy/enthalpy measurements prove that life cannot arise spontaneously and living things cannot increase in organization, WITHOUT SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES. Enter quantum physics, and other new discoveries.

For fear of which new discoveries T. Larsson is hiding under the bed, and is ready to claim they don’t meet the requirements, when all that is missing is the time and effort to show how the quantum age ends the origins controversy. The Great South Land of Australia was here, just as much when a few dutchmen touched on parts of it, as when Flinders finally charted the entire coastline. Quantum information and all its implications aren’t going to cease to exist, and can only become more understood.

PBH Wrote:

Consider a simple endothermic reaction such as dissolution of urea in water. The reaction site gets cold. Something inherent in the urea makes it so ‘desperate’ to get disordered, through dissolving, that heat is absorbed. As you know, making things cold requires energy.

This is one of the clues that tell us you know nothing about thermodynamics, entropy, enthalpy, or any other thermodynamics terms.

The rest of your comment is gibberish and a childish attempt to insult.

You do not understand the concept of temperature. Mixing salt with ice in an ice cream maker also lowers the temperature of the salt, and hence the temperature of the ice cream mixture. Many people know this.

There are many other circumstances in which dissolving salts in an adiabatic process reduce the temperature. This should give you some clue about what is going on.

You should start your learning about thermodynamics and statistical mechanics by getting a thorough understanding of the concept of temperature. That will then motivate your study of the other concepts.

After you have understood equilibrium thermodynamics and statistical mechanics (and the concepts that are involved), you will have a working vocabulary and conceptual understanding that allows you to move into non-equilibrium thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. The concepts still apply, but take on a more dynamic role.

You will also have to learn how superconductivity comes about.

Mixing salt with ice in an ice cream maker also lowers the temperature of the salt…

That should be salt/ice; and I had also intended to point out that the word “disorder” in your comment is a clue to what is going on.

But you need to put in the time and effort to learn.

Philip Bruce Heywood said: Stepping back and thinking goes a long way in science.

Why you presume to speak on science when it is obvious (to all, I might add) that you know absolutely nothing of the subject eludes me. However, in your case it isn’t analysis that is needed, it is a basic course in some remedial science.

KISS goes a long way for your problem with getting to know something of the subject.

Philip Bruce Heywood said: Something inherent in the urea makes it so ‘desperate’ to get disordered

Oh, and drop the teleology immediately. I think it would be a great idea if you started to study the concept of temperature, as Mike says.

Philip Bruce Heywood said: For fear of which new discoveries T. Larsson is hiding under the bed,

Another thing that should be apparent to all is that I don’t hide, but has commented on your efforts to propagate antiscience such as creationism and woo. If anything is hiding it is your direct answers to such comments.

Take your last exchange for example, where I asked:

Torbjörn Larsson said: How is this attempt of empirical science “landmark”, “deductions” or “of Dr. Glover [sic]”? And yes, it is also pretty well known that NS nowadays is edited by “ditherers” as it were, pandering to sensationalist readership instead of scientists. Are you claiming you didn’t know this? It is pretty basic to know one’s sources.

Your clumsy effort to put claims in my mouth (“Quantum information and all its implications aren’t going to cease to exist”) isn’t fooling anyone either.

Hi. I just noticed that your blog looks like it has a few code problems at the very top of your blog’s page. I’m not sure if everybody is getting this same problem when browsing your site? I am employing a totally different browser than most people, referred to as Opera, so that is what might be causing it? I just wanted to make sure you know. Thanks for posting some great postings and I’ll try to return back with a completely different browser to check things out! Also, I put a link to your blog at my site,hope you dont mind?

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on April 25, 2008 8:14 PM.

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