Saturday, June 8, 2013

Lynn Margulis's Thesis of Symbiogenesis Vindicated?

The late biologist and member of the National Academy of Sciences (and 9/11 Truther), Lynn Margulis, held forth that evolution should best be understood as symbiogenesis: "the merging of two [or more] separate organisms to form a single new organism." Now an article at from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences states:

  For much of her professional career, Lynn Margulis (1938–2011), a controversial visionary in biology, predicted that we would come to recognize the impact of the microbial world on the form and function of the entire biosphere, from its molecular structure to its ecosystems. The weight of evidence supporting this view has finally reached a tipping point. The examples come from animal–bacterial interactions, as described here, and also from relationships between and among viruses, Archaea, protists, plants, and fungi. These new data are demanding a reexamination of the very concepts of what constitutes a genome, a population, an environment, and an organism. Similarly, features once considered exceptional, such as symbiosis, are now recognized as likely the rule, and novel models for research are emerging across biology. As a consequence, the New Synthesis of the 1930s and beyond must be reconsidered in terms of three areas in which it has proven weakest: symbiosis, development, and microbiology (115). One of these areas, microbiology, presents particular challenges both to the species concept, as formulated by Ernst Mayr in 1942, and to the concept that vertical transmission of genetic information is the only motor of selectable evolutionary change."

 Margulis has often been derided by the scientific community for her views on the role of symbiogenesis in evolution. It sounds as if it may be time for her vindication. I wish she had lived to see this article go to print. Now one wonders if her other controversial views - including those on 9/11 - will ever be vindicated.

 HT: Peter Enns.

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