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Molecular mechanisms of burrowing behavior

Posted on January 29, 2013 by James Kohl.

Profiles in Science | Hopi E. Hoekstra Digging Deep in the DNA By JAMES GORMAN Published: January 28, 2013 “New York Times”

Excerpt: “Decades ago the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins suggested that one could study the evolution and genetics of behavior just the way one studies the evolution of body shape: concentrate on what animals build — birds’s nests, beaver dams, termite mounds — and treat them like beak length or coat color.”

My comment: Is Dawkins aware that “Reproductive isolation evidently can arise with little or no morphological differentiation.“–Dobzhansky (1972). Beak length, coat color, and what animals build have nothing to do with the evolution and genetics of behavior.  For contrast, also mentioned in this article is Cori Bargmann, who is likely to be aware of how molecular epigenetics contribute to nutrient-dependent speciation in “predatory” worms compared to “grazing” worms. Speciation is pheromone-controlled.

This brings us to the comment by Gene Robinson, who is an expert on nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled hormone-organized and hormone-activated behavior in honeybees.  He indicates it will be hard to find the genes for differences in the burrowing behavior of the mammals Hopi Hoekstra is studying.

Clearly, adaptive evolution is nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled which makes it non-random. It is controlled from the bottom up by nutrients, and from the top-down by the metabolism of the nutrients to species-specific pheromones. The molecular mechanisms of adaptive evolution, which are clear to Bargmann and to Robinson, exemplify a point-of-attack that should be used to counter Dawkin’s nonsensical theoretical approach. Something went horribly wrong in the context of adaptive evolution when Dawkins suggested it was driven by phenotypic expression (morphology) or that it could be studied via examination of what animals build.

What’s wrong with this article is that molecular biology is mixed with nonsensical theory in a disturbing mess of facts and factoids. We might otherwise have learned that the differences in the burrowing behavior will obviously turn out to be nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled via epigenetic effects on genetically predisposed behaviors as occurs with speciation from microbes to man.   Instead, someone might get the idea that the study of beak length and coat color will lead us to a better understanding of how random mutations cause adaptive evolution at a time when most people know that adaptive evolution is nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled.

See also: Blind Mole Rats Show Evolution in Action

by Colin Barras on 28 January 2013, 3:00 PM

Excerpt: “He has preliminary evidence that female and male mole rats taken from one soil type prefer to mate with each other even in the presence of mole rats from the other soil type—although he says more work must be done to show that this preference is strong enough to explain the genetic differences.”

My comment: A slight difference in glucose uptake in microbes is sufficient to cause pheromone-controlled speciation and sex differences at the advent of sexual reproduction in yeasts.




James Kohl
Retired medical laboratory scientist

James Kohl

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