Feb 3, 2010

Behe bites back

An update on my previous post "in the E Coli of the beholder"

I think this, here, provides confirmation for my main intuition (independently garnered), that the long-range research added additional empirical evidence for some of the statistical claims in "the Edge of Evolution". Michael Behe wrote his amazon post half way through 08 in response to the Lenski paper, so I was a bit behind; but that's ok.

I should clarify that the change we're talking about only concerned the transport of citrate rather than its use for energy per se. The 'wild' E Coli cells could already use citrate in the cell (as anyone who has studied the Krebs Cycle should know!) but could not normally get this kind of molecule across the membrane from outside. Also, Behe suggests the mutation was more than a point mutation - I did note the likelihood of multiple mutations pointed to in Lenski's paper, but MB implies there are other classes of possible mutations too (I think these would include larger deletions.) I'm not sure that I originally quite understood the point of the paper in other ways too, particularly in that the trait had actually already been found previously in a couple of different studies - it was the long-term 'historical study showing contingency in evolution' aspect that was meant to be particularly interesting; however, I'm learning.

Picture: Wikipedia

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