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Molecular mechanisms of ecological and social niche construction in sexual selection

Posted on March 24, 2013 by James Kohl.

Excerpt from Nutrient-dependent / Pheromone-controlled thermodynamics and thermoregulation: “In flies, ecological and social niche construction can be linked to molecular-level cause and effect at the cellular and organismal level via nutrient-dependent changes in mitochondrial tRNA and a nuclear-encoded tRNA synthetase. The enzyme enables attachment of an appropriate amino acid, which facilitates the reaction required for efficient and accurate protein synthesis (Meiklejohn et al., 2013). In wasps, manipulation of the genetics of evolved species-specific pheromones characterized the change in a pre-existing signaling molecule triggered by a glucose-dependent (Yadav, Joshi, & Gurjar, 1987) stereochemical inversion (Niehuis et al., 2013).  In the moth, substitution of a critical amino acid, is sufficient to create a new pheromone blend (Lassance et al., 2013).”

My comment: In species from microbes to man, non-visual natural selection is invariably associated with the epigenetic effects of nutrients and their metabolism to pheromones (Kohl, 2012). The likely role of non-visual selection recently was added to what was believed to primarily involve selective predation in the peppered moth Biston betularia and other industrial melanic moths (Cook & Saccheri, 2013).

The peppered moth has long been used by evolutionary theorists to explain or demonstrate natural selection. Clearly, the changes in coloration are due to natural selection. However, as has since been detailed (above), we know that natural selection occurs at the molecular level of nutrient-dependent protein biosynthesis. Since the time that pheromones were first defined (Karlson & Luscher, 1959, we have also known about the role of pheromones in nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled sexual selection.

The substitution of a critical amino acid is sufficient to create a new pheromone blend in moths (Lassance et al., 2013), and sexual selection is nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled.   Selective predation has comparatively little explanatory power in the context of adaptive evolution. What is worse for theorists is that the explanatory power of selective predation was commonly linked to random mutations theory without ever acknowledging Darwin’s “Conditions of Existence (see for review Marsh, 2012).”

Obviously, organisms must exist before natural selection for phenotype can occur via selective predation. Similarly, organisms must exist before sexual selection for nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled behaviors enables sexual selection. What then, might help to explain the proposal by evolutionary theorists that mutations in the peppered moth are responsible for natural selection via predation?

If mutations are responsible for adaptive evolution associated with color change, are mutations also responsible for the reversal of color changes that occurred when industrial pollution began to be controlled? It seems more likely to me that the molecular mechanisms of ecological and social niche construction in sexual selection are responsible for adaptive evolution to an ever-changing environment.

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James Kohl
Retired medical laboratory scientist

James Kohl




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