Social selection: genetic contribution of viruses to life on earth

By: James V. Kohl | Published on: March 21, 2011

The positive genetic contributions of viruses to life on Earth will be explored by researchers at the University of Delaware and the Delaware Biotechnology Institute through a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Marine Microbiology Initiative.
As I noted earlier, science fiction author Greg Bear successfully predicted the involvement of specific viruses in speciation (read Darwin’s Radio and Darwin’s Children). This new report attests to the likelihood that the mechanisms may someday be found. Bear’s concept of viral induction of species evolution — with further consideration given after reading this article — also sheds light on differences between what most people call “natural” selection and what some people are beginning to call “social” selection. There may be no evidence of transitionary species in the fossil record because viruses elicited comparatively sudden and dramatic changes in the genotype and phenotype of extant organisms as other organisms became extinct. One of the mechanisms involved in speciation, as indicated by Bear, is likely to be pheromones that signal similarities and differences in species that occupy similar social niches. I’m now suggesting that transfer of genetic material between species — not just single genes, but large segments of genetic code – could rather suddenly result in what might at first appear to be a newly evolved organism. If ever a newly evolved organism is found, it might be a good idea to look around its neighborhood for genetic clues that provide evidence of parenthood, or of Creation.

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