Mimicry based on Darwin’s conditions of life
March 6, 2014 | James Kohl
Re: “Maybe this particular gene family, involved in sex determination throughout the animal kingdom, is also involved in making deer antlers or peacock tails.”
My comment: That seems to be biologically plausible. One gene family and biophysically constrained chromosomal rearrangements could be involved at the advent of sexual reproduction in unicellular organisms and also in determination of the morphological and behavioral phenotypes of all other species that sexually reproduce. That idea was unknowingly suggested in the context of Darwin’s “conditions of life.”
Dobzhanksy (1972) extended Darwin’s ideas about ‘conditions of life’ and mimicry to flies. We extended the idea that ‘conditions of life’ are nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled in flies and all species from yeasts to mammals in a 1996 review article From Fertilization to Adult Sexual Behavior. Others extended our model of genetically-predisposed epigenetically-effected conserved molecular mechanisms that link the epigenetic landscape to the physical landscape of DNA in organized genomes to life history transitions in honeybees, via hormone-organized and hormone-activated differences in insects.
We wrote: “Small intranuclear proteins also participate in generating alternative splicing techniques of pre-mRNA and, by this mechanism, contribute to sexual differentiation in at least two species, Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans… That similar proteins perform functions in humans suggests the possibility that some human sex differences may arise from alternative splicings of otherwise identical genes (p. 337).” Most people ignored the idea that the conserved molecular mechanisms we detailed in our section on molecular epigenetics might link Darwin’s ‘conditions of life’ to sexual reproduction in all species that sexually reproduce. Even now, the focus seems to be on what constraint-breaking mutations might do, in theory.
What Kunte et al. (2014) have shown appears to add more experimental evidence that refutes theories based on population genetics. The experimental evidence supports the likelihood that biophysical constraints on ecological variations and ecological adaptations underlie species diversity. That representation is consistent with what was recently expressed in Physiology is rocking the foundations of evolutionary biology.
In my model, for example, the physiology of reproduction and species diversification is biophysically constrained because it is nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled. That biological fact suggests the differences between mimetic and non-mimetic females at more than 1,000 nucleotides is not due to a thousand mutations that are inherited together. Instead, Kunte et al. (2014) appears to confirm the biological fact that the differences are nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled. That fact enables the expression of differences in ever-changing ecologies.
The changing ecologies appear to drive species diversity, but only in the context of biophysically constrained protein folding in species from microbes to man. Is it biologically plausible for mutations to do what food odors and pheromones do in butterflies and other species? Is there a model for that, or just an idea based on population genetics?