Ennetech by Erasmus and Kinkajou AuthorsKinkajou Tells It True

 

 

 

Gene Control : Genetic Design

 

 

KinkajouMed Kinkajou

 

 

 

Genes / Exons make the Proteins

Introns / Control segments make the Organism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Genes make the organism. To date humanity has concentrated upon the products of genes. Little attention has been lavished upon the way in which genes interact. The DNA of a chimpanzee is said to be almost 98% similar to that of human beings. We share many of the same chemical systems and the same biological machinery that actuates the systems.

A slow realisation is beginning to dawn among scientists that it is amidst the genes that control expression of other genes, that we differ the most, from even our closest relatives the apes.

Part of the problem is that studying gene products is easy. The complexity of “interaction” between genes is however almost infinitely complex. Even amongst well defined genes such as the E. coli Lac Operon, researchers are still finding genes which change the expression of the operon, often in very substantial ways. And this is supposed to be one of the easy “basic” gene combinations aka : operons.

And this is a common failing of science. What seems so simple to the uninitiated, becomes incredibly complex as our understanding grows and we begin to see the limits of our own knowledge.

Today some researchers believe that human DNA is capable of directly coding for all possible antibodies. Others believe that the DNA forms a toolkit for the production of antibodies, in much the same way as script kiddies use virus toolkits to make computer viruses. (A cookbook approach).

The understanding of memory and neural interactivity is another such example. What is the genetic basis of memory?

Genes may code the gene products, but it is the control sequences which create so much functional complexity. If one considers that gene products (for example proteins) code for memory, it becomes obvious that gene product A can cause action B. However if one adds control sequences, it becomes obvious that gene product A can actually cause effects B, C, D, E and F.

Perhaps even more.

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It becomes obvious when one considers such complexity, that there is room in evolution not only for the random events of chance, but also for the acts of God as well. Evolution would appear to occur in leaps and large steps.

What Darwin describes as evolution, is probably more akin to a fine “tuning” process : tuning  an organism’s genes to its environment. But there is a loaded dice in the evolution  scenario. Stepwise evolution occurs with wholesale transfer of gene segments and the control sequences. Such mutations cause substantial changes in the function of an organism.

The end result is either death or success. This alternative to Darwinian evolution is much more obviously a reflection of random events of chance, changing genes which are then selected for by their environment. But while such evolution is common, it  is becoming obvious that is not the way in which new species are born.

Spongecake

 

If you cannot agree with this scenario, consider this example of evolution.
Describe the process by which a sponge cake can evolve into a fruitcake.


This probable process  responsible is somewhat akin to the process by which humanity evolved. The fossil record describes stepwise evolution  of prehuman species with wholesale changes resulting in the rapid development and Genesis of new species.

This is not “Darwinian” – fine tuning evolution. The fruitcakes appear in place of the sponge cake in a single generation.  Species with substantial alterations in their capabilities just appear. There is no evidence of a gradual transformation of ape to man or of sponge cake to fruitcake. There is simply no evidence in the fossil record of Darwinian evolution occurring in the gradual incremental fashion that the Darwinian theory of evolution proposes as the mechanism of the development of new species. .

The complexity of the control of the action of genes arises from the different ways genes can interact. Genes can act directly upon other genes. The Lac operon in E. coli is a classic example of this. The repressors plus inducers and modifiers can affect the action of a gene from outside of its operon, even for what are considered to be simple organisms such as the bacteria. Perhaps we should lose our sense of eukaryotic superiority over prokaryotic organisms. Prokaryotes have had billions of years to evolve.

Their evolution can occur as an exponentially faster rate than for eukaryotes. Bacteria are capable of swapping genes between different tribes and species through the action of sex pili (little tubes connecting bacteria) facilitating bacterial conjugation. What we infer as simplicity may in fact reflect a lack of understanding of the complexity of interaction existing in the DNA of even such a lowly organisms.

KinkajouMed Kinkajou : Genes can also act indirectly upon other genes. RNA products of genes can act locally or at a  distance to modify the expression of DNA genes. RNA can facilitate, accelerate or block the expression of a gene.

Other products of genes such as proteins or protein composites such as the histone proteins within DNA can also have substantial effects on gene expression. The packing and unpacking by histones of DNA can affect gene action. Cellular differentiation involving the progressive changing of DNA packing can substantially alter the function of cell.

The DNA within a neurone is the same as that within other organs such as the liver kidney or heart. However each of the cells have substantially different functions, almost akin to suggesting that the cells bear no genetic relationship to each other at all.

Chemicals produced by the body or ingested by the body can alter how the body works. The location of DNA along the nuclear membrane is likely to be significant as well. Hormones such as the steroid family of hormones and vitamins such as vitamin D can all have effects on nuclear receptors and on DNA genes .

Fruitcake

Fruitcake Gene products and chemical substrates of enzymes generated by genes can also feedback to alter gene action.

With our growing understanding of the actions of genes we have discovered some unusual new forms for control of DNA expression. HIV has a frame shift codon which can initiate transcription several proteins from the same DNA sequence, thereby condensing the information carrying capacity of the genome and at the same time guaranteeing that mutations can be prevented from destabilising an organism’s critical functions.

Change a sequence->>  lots of functions change and the virus becomes ineffective: success or failure is the only path for mutational evolution in an organism gene-coded in this manner. We also see the example in human DNA of how repeat DNA sequences can offer genetic expression. This mechanism forms the basis of the development of diseases such as Huntington’s Chorea and Fragile X syndrome.

Methylation is another important mechanism for altering the expression of DNA. It is the basis of diseases such as Silver Russell Syndrome. It may be important in cellular differentiation, guaranteeing that cells become locked into their functions. An interesting consideration is that the DNA of the species such as humanity must vary considerably amongst individuals.

Consider the effect on the eukaryotic organism if a single added DNA base pair in an intron ensured that the DNA strands would not match, causing irreparable loss of cellular functions. DNA in eukaryotes has mechanisms whereby genes are matched and gene segments can be swapped from one DNA strand to another in meiosis: sexual reproduction. This process is called sister chromatid exchange.

It is likely to be an important mechanism in sexual differentiation. For example in women, X chromosomes activate or inactivate in a seemingly random pattern throughout her body. If the defect occurs in one X chromosome, it will only be expressed in some cell lines perhaps not in others. Genes can have different effects on the nucleus of the cell, on the cell itself and at the multicellular level of the macro organism as well. And another consideration perhaps left of centre: 

“Is there a genetic basis for psychic talent?”  “ Do genes code for psychic abilities or do groups of genes controlling gene expression code for psychic abilities?”  “ Do random environmental effects cause sensitisation particular gene complexes rendering them sensitive to energies or effects which are not obvious at the macro level?” The latest TV series version of Battlestar Galactica suggests that perhaps psychic talent has been injected into the human genetic pool by our union with the human Cylons.

In short, in genetics and evolution there is room for both God and science. Genetics and an understanding of the systems by which genes are controlled are likely to be critical in our ability to impact on our environment. But there is also room in our world for many things for which genetics gives no answers. There has been no gene found to cause schizophrenia. There has been no gene found to cause depression or anxiety. We must seek our answers elsewhere, in another frontier.

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Examples from Science Fiction include: The  Thranx in Alan Dean Foster series of books provide an inkling of the importance that genetic technologies  can assume in the adaptation of intelligent species to its environment. The Thranx are miracle workers of plant husbandry and biological waste management, critical technologies to their underground lifestyle.

Thranx and Larvae

Thranx and Larvae The “Alien” series of books and films provides a glimpse of genetics as a weapon of war. The aliens developed from a gene technology which is able to adapt useful genes from host organisms to produce a stronger and more aggressive species able to out-compete its hosts.

I think the reality is that the development of a successful genome type is not an easy mix and match process that the development of the “aliens” suggests. The development of new species is a complex process fraught with a plethora of genetic casualties, until finally a successful variant emerges and swamps its host population - rendering them outcompeted and extinct.

The weapons of the new variant can in fact be quite subtle. The ability of an organism to turn on and turned off its growth cycle in response to environmental pressures such as drying. The development of intelligence: the ability to develop a multiplicity of solutions to environmental problems. The fossil record suggests that modern man developed a wide range of tools to solve a range of problems that their environment posed to their survival and success.

The fossil record suggests that Neanderthals had a much more limited range of adaptation, inferred from the paucity of different tools developed by this species. The effects of nuclear war in human DNA have been considered by many authors. The random mutation process engendered by radiation is likely to be incredibly harmful to the affected organisms. But perhaps from this process could arise a single new species to be our own successor.

Alien Queen
Alien SigmaPsiQueen

 

Lester Del  Ray: the Eleventh Commandment. Dr Boyd Jensen was been exiled from Mars back to earth ,due to the appearance of genetic mutations derived from the cataclysm on earth, in his gene line. While his great-grandfather had been one of those least affected and had been able to pass Mars’s rigid tests, after three generations, the mark of the damage was beginning to come out fully in Dr Boyd Jensen’s genes.

This was unacceptable to the colonists on Mars – being regarded as endangering the purity of their own gene pool. On returning to earth, he confronted the horror evident from the avalanche of mutations appearing in the common gene pool of the people living on the planet Earth. The Eleventh Commandment of the church was: “ Be fruitful and multiply”.

He challenged the Archbishop as to why a selective program to weed out the mutations was not undertaken. Take the reasons of science, Dr Jensen. The priesthood and most of those who serve the Church are chosen from the sterile, as I was chosen. We do not risk losing any viable seed even to the needs of the Church itself. As for our insistence on the maximum increase from others, as opposed to the selected “Choosing” you suggest, I suggest to you that no man knows how to select from ones’ own race for the needs of the future!.

We believe that only God can be trusted to decide; and the Asiatic scientists, who seem to reject God, believe that only chance in the survival of the fit can decide. Can you tell me what types to choose from among our uncertain strains – and how many are needed to ensure survival for the race of humanity in the dark days in perhaps ten more generations when we shall have scattered mutations throughout the whole of our people?.

During many more generations, the weaknesses and faults already present are going to spread and become more and more dangerous to us. Only a maximum population with a maximum variety of types can insure us of finding enough who are viable to carry on the race. Man must be fertile and multiply, if he is to replace the earth in a form capable of survival.

And if there are horrors now, we must bear them; perhaps they are even a mercy to us in the long term, since they form a natural testing ground for our children, to weed out the weaker strains and develop our strengths. Isn’t that in keeping with even the science of Mars? Boyd stared up towards the stars. Up there, those of the pure blood and assurance of intellect through heredity, were sure of themselves, riding the wave of their own self content. Earth had been denied the skies in the future.

But Boyd no longer believed in the proud destiny that the inhabitants of  Mars planned for its descendants. For the moment, earth had lost the great race toward the future. In the days and years ahead would be ugly ones. But someday, the War of the mutations within the cells would find a truce. The weaknesses would be eliminated in the raw struggle for survival of the world pressed to its limits.

The strengths would be fortified by sacrifice. And it would be a new race of men, since among all the bad mutations there would be some good ones to put them another step up the ladder to whatever the final solution might be. Mars could keep her hothouse purity until she stagnated. Out of the jungles of Earth would come the new men to bypass Mars and seek out the stars beyond.
MarsGeneResearcher SigmaPsiBoyd Jensen

 

Frank Herbert: Dune. We see the Bene Gesserit witches plan their breeding program to create a new man – the Kwisatz Haderach – one can see both male and female pasts. Our discussions of evolution and the example of Lester Del Ray: The Eleventh Commandment suggests that monogenic selection can only select and amplify traits already present.

It cannot create new traits. To attempt to guide evolution would be for a Congress of frogs to attempt to design the new being into which they would evolve – perhaps a human being. It is unlikely they could see or understand or contemplate many of the aspects – behavioural, intellectual or physical required to create their successor species. Of more concern is that the future cares little for our opinions. It is just as likely that the Triffids will inherit the Earth, than men.
Thufir Human Mentat Computer SigmaPsiThufir Hawat Dune SigmaPsiPaul Atreides Dune

 

 

EE Doc Smith: Lensman series. The Arisians resolved to breed a super being as a weapon to destroy and enemy race the Eddorians. By working over millennia they do in fact design a new successor species – perhaps even unto themselves- The Children of the Lens.
LensmanPsiOfficer Lensman Simms Alan Dean Foster: Flinx series. Humanity dabbles with the creation of intelligence and extra psychic powers in human beings. We achieve an erratic success – which comes to be defined as an illegal and undesirable path for humanity to take. Unfortunately there are a few survivors from this breeding program – notably Philip Lynx (a.k.a. Flinx). The challenge is of course how to create the skills and powers, when we understand them so imperfectly ourselves.
FlinxTravellorPsi Flinx MA Foster: The Game Players of Zan. Humanity has indeed created a new successor species. However there are pluses and minuses.  Yes there is a new species, but better than us in some ways and worse than us in others. Compare this to the example of  AE Van Vogt: Slan. The new species arising from the wave of mutations building up in the human population inadvertently creates a true super being – the true successor to humanity. Humanity’s scientists must face the realisation that anything they can discover has probably already been discovered by a Slan scientist. They cannot compete physically or mentally with the new species projected seemingly by accident from the mutational apocalypse.
Kathleen Slan Woman Kathleen Gray John Wyndham: The Day of the Triffids. One must ask the question of “where did the Triffids come from?” Were they really created by scientists behind the Iron Curtain? Could they have arisen from somewhere else? Perhaps the successor to humanity is not a creature with greater intelligence but a creature with greater persistence such as the Triffid. Able to sporulate and colonise the earth, they spread throughout the planet. Imagine if it is their spores detonating in the upper atmosphere which release the vision destroying radiation. The path of evolution need not be always upwards and greater – but simply towards the more robust and deadly.
Triffid SigmaPsiTriffid

 

Paolo Bacigalupi: The Windup Girl. Genetic biology gone mad! Companies blackmail humanity for profit and push humanity to the edge of oblivion through wilful misdirected genetic engineering. Monstrosities such as: Cheshire cats, multiple infections and plagues abound. And all to protect the patents and profits from the production of seeds. It is almost a reality I can see. I think only short-term painting laws prevent such horrific future from threatening to evolve.

 

Brian Stableford: The Hooded Swan series. The alien mind parasite “The Wind” is an interesting example of genetics. The organism is capable of spreading its DNA through the atmosphere and of colonising a suitable host where it rebuilds itself from the DNA fragments. But the organism shows a tight introspective control. It colonises a new home, but shows no particular tendency to take over the new home. It is a Symbiotic parasite . Perhaps such a direction may be appropriate for our skills.
Grainger and The Wind Starship PilotsSigmaPsiWind”

 

David Brin: Star Tide Rising. Species are raised from an animal status to intelligence by a patron race. In return for this service, the patron race demands 100,000 years of servitude from its “children”. It is the way of galactic civilisation. Humans were fortunate indeed because they had elevated the dolphins and the chimpanzees and eventually even gorillas by the time they had discovered galactic civilisation. I think comparing the examples of the prime species here: human versus chimpanzee versus gorilla shows the significant behavioural changes based on the genetics of the different species – in effect creating completely different species.

Humanity may in fact behaviourally be a close relative to the “bonobo” chimpanzees than to the Pan troglodyte chimpanzees. The book gives the example of the Traeki species which were metamorphosed into the monstrous Jophur by a patron race with little understanding of how their genetic meddling could change the entire nature of the species.
Tom Orley Terragens Agent SigmaPsiTom Orley Dolphin Spacers Startide Rising

 

Robert Aspirin: The Bug Wars. In their war of survival against the insects, the Tzen reptiles colonise many of the insect planets with mammals which seek out and eat the eggs of the insects. They ponder how sensible their choice may be. Could the mammals grow to sentience and challenge the reptiles themselves? They have highly active nature and their high metabolism suggests a natural direction for evolution.
Rahn Tzen Warrior SigmaPsiRahm

 

 

Isaac Asimov: The Gods Themselves. We are given an example of a species which forms by coalescence from three separate and distinct elements. While this may seem incredibly unusual, note that most human beings are formed by the coalescence of two separate and distinct elements as represented by the germ cells of sperm and ovum. In considering this, what initially seems a radical proposal, now begins to seem more a variant of the usual process of sexual reproduction.


Estwald Trinary Estwald Brane Intelligence
SigmaPsiEstwald Brane Intelligence

Julian May: Orion Arm. Humanity comes in conflict with an alien race the Haluk who aim to change the genetics of their species to remove the hibernation trait using the obscure genen vector PD32:C2 . The possession of this genetic trait which forces hibernation is a substantial disadvantage to a species attempting to compete with other galactic civilisations. Evolve or face being outcompeted by the other species.
Helmut Icicle Helmut Icicle Donald Kingsbury: Geta. Humanity finds itself marooned on a hostile world . Genetics, genetic engineering and forced evolution are humanity’s weapons to carve out a niche for our species on the hostile home planet. And the greatest crime of all is to taint native life forms with human genes.

HomeiPredictorKaiel SigmaPsiHomei

Jerry Pournelle: Future History. In this novel and in others of the same era, the author struggles with the concept of “stupid” strains of humanity coming to proliferate and dominate the gene pool. The sheer numbers of the stupid humans forces decisions on others which are counter survival and negate common sense. It is up to “government” to create the scenario whereby all benefit and all survive. Political organisms such as government can evolve also – into pathways which are counter survival and not to the benefit of the common man. Evolution occurs in many facets as well as through genetics.

 

Anne McCaffrey: Dragon Riders of Pern series. The Dragons form a triumph of human genetic engineering success. Adapted from a local life form – the fire lizards, they enable humans to travel and to fight off aggressive mycorrhizoid lifeforms which cross from another planet to the human occupied planet at  perihelion apposition.
RuthDragonJaxom SigmaPsiRuth

 

 


KinkajouMed Kinkajou: What does this technology remind me of in Brisbane?

 

KinkajouMed Kinkajo :Clever New Applications:

As for food Biotech:

KinkajouMed Kinkajou :Clever food biotechnology applications:

Rice with protein. Rice is one of the most important food crops in the world, feeding much of the Asian population. It is highly deficient in protein and many other nutrients. It is largely composed of carbohydrate. Engineering new rice strains with a percentage of protein and other nutrients would substantially change the health of people throughout the Asian world.

Bananas with vitamins or protein. Similarly bananas are a major staple food crop in parts of the tropical world such as Papua New Guinea. To engineer variants with higher yield and to improve nutritional value would substantially change health of people in the tropical world.

“Meat” trees: just to give vegetarians a non-animal-based option. Grow your meat on trees. Who could complain?

Fertiliser plants. Being able to gene engineer plants which are able to concentrate nutrients such as nitrogen sulphur or phosphorus would be a step in the direction of sustainable agriculture. Variants of these plants could also be used to collect heavy metals or to purify soil pollutants.

New food plants. Unfortunately there are a lot of “old” food plants which are not currently used much in agriculture due to limited public acceptance.

Altering plant genetic variability. Too much agriculture in the Western world is based on Mono- crop agriculture. When a new pest arises  able to take advantage of deficiencies in the resistance of Broadacre crops, food production can be threatened for entire regions of the planet.

Consider the effect of the potato famine in Ireland and the mass emigration from this country into the western world. Having plants with sufficient genetic variability to offer pests a number of resistance factors, while having similar production yield characteristics, would improve the reliability of food production.

Such a consideration is important in Vernor Vinge’s description of civilisation as a series of increasing optimisations. Eventually, a failure of a single critical subsystem can create a series of catastrophic collapses affecting the entire structure. The potato famine would be appropriate an early example of just such an event.

Altering plant genetics to improve shelf life. If food can be stored, peaks and troughs in production and consumption can be evened out – ensuring year around food supply. In Australia oranges apples and bananas are stored for long periods in temperature controlled warehouses, and ripened with ethylene oxide when required. This ensures that these fruits are available year-round to the general population.


Brisbane City Botanical Gardens: mangrove Boardwalk.


Southbank Parklands also has rainforest boardwalk