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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bacterial Genomes and Evolution

I recently became aware of the fact that Intelligent Design creationists are promoting a strange idea. They bacteria were very complex when life first formed and their genomes have been degrading over time. Kirk Durston, a graduate student at the university of Guelph, pushed this idea in a course on intelligent design. Durston used a number of scientific references to prove his point. The main one was a paper by Miraa et al (200) from Nancy Moran's lab [Bacteria Genomes Are Degrading].

Ryan Gregory is one of the world's leading experts on genomes and their evolution. He's also a Professor at the University of Guelph. Ryan has published an excellent description of what the Mira et al. (2000) paper shows and what it does not show. You should all read it [Bacterial genomes and evolution].

For Kirk Durston's sake, I hope Ryan Gregory isn't on his Ph.D. oral committee.


  1. "Ryan Gregory is one of the world's leading experts on genomes and their evolution"

    I do ok in my own little corner of genome evolution (animal genome size), but Nancy Moran and Howard Ochman are the real experts on bacterial genome downsizing. I'm just relaying their excellent work. Thanks for making me aware of this curious anti-evolutionist argument, I had not encountered it before.

  2. By the way, there is a phenomenon similar in outline (though, obviously, not quite in scale) to a "Pharyngulanche" when you provide plugs for my posts and drive traffic up at Genomicron. A "Sandstorm" I think I will call it. :-D

  3. "Sandstorm"? I didn't think there were that many people who read Sandwalk who didn't also read Genomicron. How big is this sandstorm—10, 20, 100?

  4. It's a little difficult to quantify because my log only holds 100 entries at a time. Also it depends on the topic, but for something esoteric like bacterial genomics, probably 100 or more.

  5. "Frontloading" (guess by which mechanism, or should I say absence of mechanism?) of "information" has been a last recourse of some creationist cranks.