Tag Archives: Todd Wood

Bryan College dropping support for Center for Origins Research

Bryan College has decided to stop funding the ‘Center for Origins Research’, which is not a good thing for creationist research.

Todd Wood himself, describes his job as:

I have long known that CORE is a luxury for a small, Christian college.  In fact, every time I described my job, people were always shocked to hear that an undergraduate institution like Bryan employed faculty to do research (my teaching load is a quarter of a standard teaching load).  I also long feared that financial hardship would spell the end of CORE, since luxuries are always the first to be cut from a budget.

Bryan College will support CORE until end June, and I sinserely hope that Todd Wood, his wife, and Roger Sanders find another way to secure funding for CORE or to obtain other jobs.

Although I not always agree with Todd Wood, he is one of few people who try to justify a creationist model by reason and science. That’s to be applauded.

Without Todd and others, creation biology wouldn’t be what it is today, and I hope that he will find a way to continu his research.

At the Panda’s Thumb Nick Matzke (who makes his career by dismissing creationism and ID ) also provides some commentary.

If you have any thoughts about this, please let me know in the comments.

Joachanan

Edited: 23-1-2013 because of interpretation mistake

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It’s not only poop

Today I am going to link again to a post of Todd Wood, and this time it’s about poop. His post is about research that is recently published and explains how fecal transplantation cured in 94% of the reported cases an infection with Clostridium difficile.

Todd wrote in his post that:

Creationist biologist Joe Francis, at the Master’s College in California, has long proposed that God created macro organisms (those you can see) to live in a complex partnership with microorganisms (those you can’t see).  Joe thinks that the relationships between macro and micro are essential to the health of both types of organisms, so without the proper balance of relationships, things can go really wrong.

This study provides an opening to speculation that the cause of a disease not always a question of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ germs is, but in fact depends on the balance of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ germs.

When reading his posts, my attention was drawn to several lectures that I had some time ago. In fact, I remembered that this phenomena is not only illustrated here, but that this is also observed in other organisms.

First of all I want to point out to disease-suppressive soils, which are soils where plants are protected from  particular soil-borne diseases. This protection against those soil-borne diseases occurred only in particular soils, which obviously should have properties that caused this.

Researchers found out that suppressive soils are not suppressive anymore when subjected to pasteurization (which kills all microbes). Second, they found out that suppresiveness can be transplanted (just like the poop), and that non-suppressive soils could become suppressive when 0.1%-10% of the suppressive soil was mixed with the non-suppressive soil. In short, the primary cause of the suppressiveness was caused by microorganisms. Several examples of pathogens which are suppressed by particular kinds of soils are available. Fungal pathogens such as Gaeumannomyces graminis var. tritici, fusarium oxysporum, Phytophthora cinnamoni, and many more were found to be suppressed in certain soils (Haas & Défago, 2005).

I want to emphasize that this idea (proper balance of microorganisms) was already explored at a symposium in 1963 about the ‘Ecology of soil-borne plant pathogens’ (Baker & Snyder, 1665). Researchers then thought that antagonistic microorganisms competed with pathogens, by producing antibiotics.

Further research into disease-suppresive bacteria was also done at the Wageningen university in the Netherlands, and in 2011 an article was published in Science with as goal ‘Deciphering the Rizosphere Microbiome for Disease-Suppressive Bacteria’ (Mendes et al., 2011). What was done as following: They used microarrays to identify bacterial and archaeal community members which grow in the rhizospere of the plants in disease suppressive soils and non-suppressive soils.

What they found is that in suppressive soils not the number of bacterial taxa was the key to deciphering their problem, but that in fact the abundance of those bacterial taxa relative to each other was determining whether a soil was suppressive or not.

The second example that I have is about salmon eggs, which died of a cause of a mysterious origin. And the same thing was observed, that is the imbalance of microbiota in the eggs was causing the suppression of the mysterious disease or not (unpublished).

Let’s come to a conclusion. As Todd Wood pointed out in his post:

Joe and I have long wondered if creationist insights might lead to better treatment of disease, but we were both sort of baffled about how to make microbes fight other microbes.  Well, this is how it’s done, at least for now.

And we can see that this is a widespread phenomena in plants (and more organisms).

In all these examples it is caused by the balance between good and bad.  So the fitness of an organism is in several cases related to his close neighbours and their abundance. Another question is what implications it on the long-term could have for the theory of evolution: Is actually the unit where  natural selection selects on not only the organism itself, but also includes the microbiome?

Actually, I think that Joe is going to love this post too!

sources

Haas, D. & Défago, G. (2005) Biological control of soil-borne pathogens by fluorescent pseudomonads. Nature Reviews Microbiology 3, 307-319.
Van Nood et al. (2013) Duodenal infusion of donor feces for recurrent Clostridium difficile.  NEJM DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1205037

Mendes, et al. (2011). Deciphering the Rhizosphere Microbiome for Disease-Suppressive BacteriaScience 27 May 2011: 332 (6033), 1097-1100. 2011 

Baker, K. F. & Snyder, W. C. (eds) Ecology of Soil-Borne Plant Pathogens: Prelude to Biological Control (Univ. of California Press, Berkeley, 1965).

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

Biological Similarity – Why?

Being involved in a research project about genetics has is perks. At least I did get time enough to sleep, but things are finally slowing down. Last week I blogged about the statement of Richard Dawkins that there was only one game in town and that I had my reservations about the truth of that statement.

A lot of interesting things have happened in the scientific world since my last blogging effort. First I want to point at the continuing coverage at ENV and also on the blog of Larry Moran. I am still wondering why they are so upset about the results, because they imply nothing. In my opinion they even do not illustrate design. Perhaps the results illustrate that our Creator  made us really complex, but nothing more.

I was thinking about what design means for creation science. Everyone can see that across all kingdoms DNA is built up in the same way and that the genetic code is universal. But it’s more important to look at the genes themselves. We see that genes are mutated and observe diversification of genes between different species. An explanation from the perspective of creation science could be that God used the same building blocks, but modified them for a specific purpose in different organisms.

Furthermore I was thinking about why specific loss of function-mutants are found across the hominids. In both humans and chimpanzee are shared errors found which are the causal factor of pseudogenes. According to evolutionary theory this could easily be explained by common descent. Pseudogenes would be expected to occur in both humans and chimpanzees when they have a common ancestor.

How do creationists explain that? Several explanations are proposed, but no one has adequately explained the similarity between different unrelated organisms from a creation perspective. I was struggling with this question when I saw that Todd Wood has published a paper about this problem. He says that the problem of biological similarity is maybe the most important issue in creation biology. Furthermore he illustrates that similarity is easily explained by a creator, but that we would then expect the same pattern across all organisms.

As of now no adequate explanation is found which explains the striking differences in the degree of similarity between organisms. And that’s the problem on which creationist scientists should focus.

Why did our Creator allow specific patterns of errors between unrelated species which are in different baramins?

Any thoughts?