Are we monkeys, fungi, bacteria, viruses, just what are we?

Would you build a house, one grain of sand at a time? If you did, how long would it take you to get finished? Quite a while, right? Wouldn’t it make more sense to start out with bricks made up from the sand? Or better still, start out with pre-fabricated walls made up from bricks?

Here’s another silly example for you: Would you make a computer, one transistor at a time? A transistor is a simple on/off switch or equivalent to one bit. There are 8 bits in a byte. So to generate a computer with only one megabyte of memory would require you to solder together eight million transistors, one right after the other. Most computers today have gigabytes (billion bytes) of memory, so you would be working on that quite a while. Obviously, it makes more since to use prefabricated microchips that already have the transistors built into them. Eliminate the empty space between the transistors and fuse them together into an integrated circuit that can simply be plugged into a motherboard, instantly upgrading it to however many transistors are within that circuit.

If this makes sense for humans, why would nature be any different? After all, our brains, our mode of reasoning and figuring out the easiest ways to get thing done all came from nature. We, our relationships, and civilizations are merely extensions of what came before. And what came before included earlier primates, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, jellyfish, worms, amoebas, bacteria, and viruses. Are you telling me that these hierarchical, evolutionary relationships were are derived by sticking DNA together a few nucleotides at a time? Of course not!

This is what this blog is all about. How we may have evolved from something as lowly as even a virus, and probably still are! After all, if you have chicken pox, the virus is still inside you, right? That’s how you can get shingles. So where do these viruses “live” inside you? Well, to put it bluntly, they are now PART of your DNA, like it or not. You have been genetically changed by them.

But let’s not stop with just viruses. Even bacteria are capable of altering the genetic programming of cells such as we have and becoming incorporated into us, in essence becoming US. Don’t believe it? Think about mitochondria for a moment. Almost all multicellular life would not exist without them because they use oxygen to give us the energy we need to survive. And yet, they appear to be nothing more than remnants of aerobic (oxygen using) bacteria. The “wasted space” excess DNA, has been removed from them allowing them to work more efficiently within our cells, and some of their DNA has been incorporated into our DNA.

But why stop here?  Other bacteria may have also incorporated, not just into our cells but into our very DNA, just like viruses, eliminating “wasted space” or redundant DNA so they too can work more efficiently within us.

But why stop here? Why couldn’t fungi like yeasts or even other kinds of cells do the same thing? It’s just like computers using mega or giga upgrades instead of kilobyte upgrades.

Allow this to soak in for a moment. Then, today or whenever, take some time to browse through this blog to see why I believe this has and is still occurring. Please feel free to make comments or send me questions through e mail at fabernathy@sbcglobal.net.

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About frankabernathy

I am a retired cell biologist and alumnus of Ohio State University. I became interested in chromosomes as far back as the 1960's when I wrote a term paper on the effects of radiomimetic drugs on chromosomes. I was fascinated at how they could break apart and reform new structures so easily. I became further involved in the early 1970's after taking a cytogenetics course at the University of Arkansas. I took that knowledge with me to Ohio State in 1980 where I eventually worked on my research and completed my Ph.D. dissertation, "Studies on Eukaryotic DNA Superstructure". My studies and later research suggested that the DNA within the eukaryotic chromosome is not the simple, linear molecular thread so widely suggested in all the classic textbooks published today. Instead, it may be the culmination of a geologically rapid set of endosymbiotic events where microorganisms plug into each other to create something greater than themselves. Feel free to contact me at fabernathy@sbcglobal.net.
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