Tag Archives: Biology

The International Conference on Creationism

As many creationists will know in August 2013 the International Conference on Creationism is scheduled. This conference is according to their site acclaimed in creation world.

The ICCs have been recognized as the world’s premier gathering of creation researchers and have, since the first conference in 1986, served to greatly further the creation model of origins.

The last ICC has indeed given a spark to the creation debate when Todd Wood published his AGEing model for biological diversification. The second thing of notice is the presentation that John Sanford gave on ‘using numerical simulation to test the validity of Neo-Darwinian Theory.

Regular readers of my blog know that biological diversification is a theme on which I frequently blog (For example my post on network analysis and creationism or Evolutionary stasis and abruptness).

I am quite curious about what the coming ICC will bring for creation biology and related fields. Although I am not able to attend this conference, this will be the major event for creationism and my anticipation is high.

When I look at the confirmed speakers I see several presentations that interest me:

  1. A Creationist Perspective on the Origin of Pathogenic Vibrio Choleae and Vibrio Cholerae Toxin by Joe Francis and Todd Wood. 
  2. The Fossil Record of Angiosperm Families in Relation to Baraminology by Roger Sanders.
  3. Mitochondrial DNA Analysis of Three Terrestrial Mammal Baramins (Equidae, Felidae, and Canidae) Implies an Accelerated Mutation Rate Near the Time of the Flood by Todd Wood
  4. The Fossil Record of Angiosperm Families in Relation to Baraminology by Roger Sanders
  5. Baraminological Analysis of Jurassic and Cretaceous Avialae by Paul Garner, Todd Wood and Marcus Ross
  6. Chromosome Number Changes Within Terrestrial Mammalian Families by Karen Bedinger
  7. The Chasm Between the Human and Chimpanzee Genomes: A Review of the Evolutionary Literature by Jerry Bergman and Jeffery Tomkins
  8. Using Numerical Simulation to Better Understand Fixation Rates, and Establishment of a New Principle – “Haldane’s Ratchet” by Christopher L. Rupe and John C. Sanford.
  9. A Review of the Last Decade of Creation Biology Research on Natural History, 2003-2012 by Todd Wood.
  10. Whatever Happened to Darwin’s Tree of Life? by Paul Nelson
  11. New Research Evaluating Similarities Between Human and Chimpanzee DNA by Jeff Tomkins.

And there is one I am extremely interested in, because I really do have my reservations by statistical baraminology:

  1. Australopithecus Sediba, Statistical Baraminology, and Challenges to Identifying the Human Holobaramin by Todd Wood

Stay tuned for more updates about these subjects. In the next months, and definitively in August I will blog more about this conference and related topics.

Have a nice Christmas – last blogpost of the year 2012

The end of 2012 is almost there and it has been a while ago when I posted my last post. And for sure I want to wich you all wich a happy and blessed Christmas.

In this post I just want to give you the heads up of what I thought were interesting developments in science and especially in the evolutionary kind of science.

First, I want to point out to the post of Todd Wood about gene conversion as a means to get rid of ‘bad’ mutations. Recombination is the method by which cells swap parts of the genome and can get rid of bad mutations.  But it turns out that gene conversion (type of recombination) is occuring more frequently than thought. In diploid organisms gene conversion could ‘delete’ bad fragments, and copy the good ones. So be sure to check  his post about it!

One remark from my side, is that this was demonstrated in Arabidopsis, which is a plant species, and in contrary to this observation in yeast the number of crossing over events is observerd to be larger than the number of gene conversions. This diffference has probably something to do with the differences in repeat content, as the authors of the original article suggest. So the number of crossing-over is correlated with more repeats. Which indeed is logical.

Continue reading Have a nice Christmas – last blogpost of the year 2012

Wonders of Creation – Birds of paradise

With thanks to Jerry Coyne for pointing out to the marvelous and miraculous pics and video that the Guardian published last week. It shows the sexual behavior of birds from the family of the Paradiseidae. 

Although my beliefs differ quite a lot from the views on life that Coyne has, we have to acknowledge that it’s indeed one of the hardest questions in evolutionary biology.

For the time being, just enjoy and wonder about why God may have created a mechanism that caused the different sexual behaviors of those birds and perhaps more important, how such mechanism would operate in nature.

 

 

Genomics

Human genome
Human genome (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This period I am following an advanced course in genomics, while at the same time starting with a minor thesis in genetics. It will be interesting to learn about the latest developments in genomics.

Last year it was 10 years ago that the human genome was maps and a huge celebration issue of nature gives insight into the many implications of the human genome project. Even now, scientists are still improving the annotation (giving a function to parts of the genome) and everyday new genes are discovered and researched.

Part of the excitement about genomics lies in the fact that genomics has become cheaper and cheaper in the previous year. The capacity to sequence doubles every five months and a decent genome can be sequenced for almost 10000 dollars.

It is waiting until the moment comes when sequencing a genome does not cost more than 1000 dollars. That is when personal genomics comes into play. Personally I do not think that having your own genome sequenced is of much interest but from a scientific point of view it is very interesting to compare different individual genomes.

Comparing multiple genomes of several individuals will give tremendous insight into the genetic part of diseases and for example studies into cancer could benefit by cheap genomics.

Some people argue that the Human Genome Project is an investment beyond rational analysis. Its costs estimate from 0.5 billion to 2 billion US dollars. I think that the Human Genome project has led the way to deciphering more genomic secrets than we would have without it.

In the future either people will call us stupid to invest so much, or they will be thankfully that we were willing to spend more money on science than on anything else.

Pseudogenes are indeed (sometimes) functional

Pseudogenes are sequences that originate from functional genes, but are not coding for proteins. Originally it was thought that pseudogenes were non-functional and that they were artifacts from the evolutionary history.

But recent developments in science propose another theory that is radically different.

The origen of pseudogenes can be explained by the retrotransposition of functional mRNA that is randomly inserted in the genome. They are similar to functional genes, but lack introns and other characteristics. A second mechanism by which pseudogenes could originate from duplicated genes that have accumulated deleterious mutations and therefore are not functional anymore.
Pseudogenes are abundant in all eukaryotic organism and in in humans 12,000 pseudogenes show evidence of being pseudogenes. A remarkable insight is that 60% of the pseudogenes in humans are also conserved.

..The high abundance and conservation of the pseudogenes in a variety of species indicate that  selective pressures preserve these genetic elements, and suggest that they may indeed perform important biological functions..

Recent evidence has demonstrated that more and more of the pseudogenes are transcribed in various organisms. The authors of the article conclude that:

..that the pseudogene transcripts are in fact functional but not random products. More and more accumulating examples support this alternative explanation..

The overall conclusion of the article is that:

..The study of functional pseudogenes is just at the beginning. There remain many questions to be addressed, such as the regulatory elements controlling the cell or tissue specific expression of pseudogenes. But, definitely, the so-called pseudogenes are really functional, not to be considered any more as just “junk” or “fossil” DNA. Surely, many functional pseudogenes and novel regulatory mechanisms remain to be discovered and explored in diverse organisms…

One of the major implications of this discovery is that the portion of junk DNA in the genome is steadily shrinking. Evolutionary theory says that pseudogenes are random byproducts of evolution in action. But this demonstrates that the portion of the genome that is non-functional is less than expected.

Scientist discover over and over that most of the genome is functional,  that genomic structures are more complex than expected and that non-coding DNA has a remarkable impact on regulation of essential biological functions. To me, it seems therefore more justified to say that this gives more credibility to the concept of a designer.