Friday, October 23, 2009

Microbes continue: entamoebas and fungi

First, a correction on my previous entry. I mentioned the idea that bacteria might be considered external organelles. I knew that I'd heard the idea from Joe Francis, but I couldn't remember the precise citation. I cited his Answers Magazine article, but it was actually in the Microbe Forum proceedings from 2007. Now, on with the show.

Here's a recap on previous papers in the ARJ microbe series:

Francis & Purdom: "More abundant than stars: an introductory overview of creaation microbiology"
HTML - PDF - My comments

Liu & Soper: "The natural history of retroviruses: exogenization vs endogenization"
HTML - PDF - My comments

Criswell: "A review of mitoribosome structure and function does not support the serial endosymbiotic theory"
HTML - PDF - My comments

I'm going to cover two papers in this entry because I don't have a lot to say about them. First is Sherwin's "A possible function of Entamoeba histolytica in the creation model." According to Sherwin, E. histolytica is another example of a pathogen that is closely related to non-pathogenic commensals or mutualists (that is, amoebas that live in our gut but don't cause disease), which suggests that it might have arisen from nonpathogenic ancestors. That's about it. Not very earth shattering, but hey, creationist microbiology has to start somewhere.

The most recent paper published this week is "Fungi from the biblical perspective: design and purpose in the original creation." This one is interesting since there has been pretty much no effort at developing a creationist understanding of fungi. Searching for fungi in CELD yields only 20 hits, most of which are inconsequential research news items. There's one article by Hennigan on arbusccular fungi, a couple microscopy papers on lichens from Armitage and Howe, and a couple antievolution articles. So this paper is hopefully just the beginning.

The author reviews the basics of fungi, emphasizing the symbiotic relationships. He notes that less than 1% of fungi actually cause disease, and those that do use similar structures and processes in their pathogenesis as symbionts do in their nonpathogenic interactions. He makes a few intriguing suggestions that ought to be followed up:
  • Some mycorhizal fungi might have been created to restrict growth of plant to certain areas. Kurt Wise suggested that the pre-Flood world was strictly biozoned (unlike our world), and this might be one way of accomplishing that.

  • Change in diet from herbivory to carnivory at the Fall may have been induced by change in microbial content of the gut, eliminating ability to efficiently digest plant matter. I don't think he's entirely right about that, since carnivory is far more than just digestive ability. On the other hand, digestive ability is obviously a change that had to take place at the origin of carnivory, so it seems there is definitely something to look into there.

And that's it. Again, not an earth-shattering article, but we have to start somewhere. It's nice to see an effort being made in this area.

Sherwin. 2009. A possible function of Entamoeba histolytica in the creation model. ARJ

Loucks. 2009. Fungi from the biblical perspective: design and purpose in the original creation. ARJ 2:122-131.