Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Molecular Evidence Supports Key Tenet Of Darwin's Evolution Theory

Date:
September 15, 2009
Source:
Monash University
Summary:
An international team of researchers has discovered evidence at the molecular level in support of one of the key tenets of Darwin's theory of evolution. As a model system, the research focused on one specific molecular machine, the TIM complex, which transports proteins into mitochondria.

Artist's rendering of a human cell. As a model system, the research focused on one specific molecular machine, the TIM complex, which transports proteins into mitochondria. Mitochondria are a compartment of human cells that serve as the energy-producing 'powerhouses'. At a very early stage in evolution, mitochondria were derived from bacteria that lived within the first eukaryotic cells.
Credit: iStockphoto/Gary Caviness

An international team of researchers, including Monash University biochemists, has discovered evidence at the molecular level in support of one of the key tenets of Darwin's theory of evolution.

Monash University's Professor Trevor Lithgow said the breakthrough, funded by the Australian Research Council and published recently in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides a blueprint for a general understanding of the evolution of the "machinery" of our cells.

"Our cells, and the cells of all organisms, are composed of molecular machines. These machines are built of component parts, each of which contributes a partial function or structural element to the machine. How such sophisticated, multi-component machines could evolve has been somewhat mysterious, and highly controversial." Professor Lithgow said.

A non-Darwinian explanation, from believers of Intelligent Design, proposed these complex machines to be "irreducibly complex". In other words they are so neatly complex and complete that they couldn't have evolved but rather must have been designed by an intelligent entity.

"Our research shows that these machines although complete and complex, were a result of evolution. Simple 'core' machines were established in the first eukaryotes by drawing on pre-existing proteins that had previously provided distinct, simplistic functions," Professor Lithgow said.

As a model system, the research focused on one specific molecular machine, the TIM complex, which transports proteins into mitochondria. Mitochondria are a compartment of human cells that serve as the energy-producing 'powerhouses'. At a very early stage in evolution, mitochondria were derived from bacteria that lived within the first eukaryotic cells.

"Our cells literally are chimeras of a "host" cell and these intracellular bacteria. Yet bacteria don't have TIM complexes – to understand where the TIM complex came from we simply applied scientific reasoning and looked at a modern-day bacterium akin to the organism that gave rise to mitochondria." Professor Lithgow said.

The group looked at the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus and found bacterial proteins related to the components of the mitochondrial TIM complex. They then showed that these bacterial proteins are not found as part of protein transport machines.

"Franηois Jacob described evolution as a tinkerer, cobbling together proteins of one function to yield more complex machines capable of new functions." Professor Lithgow said.

"Our work describes a perfect example of Jacob's proposition, and shows that Darwin's theory of evolution beautifully explains how molecular machines came to be."

Professor Lithgow was joined by Monash researchers Dr Abigail Clements, Dr Dejan Bursac, Dr Xenia Gatsos, Dr. Andrew Perry, Mr. Srgjan Civciristov and Ms. Nermin Celik together with researchers from the University of Melbourne and Yale University in the US.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Monash University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Monash University. "Molecular Evidence Supports Key Tenet Of Darwin's Evolution Theory." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090914111102.htm>.
Monash University. (2009, September 15). Molecular Evidence Supports Key Tenet Of Darwin's Evolution Theory. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090914111102.htm
Monash University. "Molecular Evidence Supports Key Tenet Of Darwin's Evolution Theory." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090914111102.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — Hoping to break the record for world's wooliest, Shaun the sheep came up 10 pounds shy with his fleece weighing over 50 pounds after being shorn for the first time in years. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) — Canadian scientists looking into the very first land animals took a fish out of water and forced it to walk. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fake Dogs Scare Real Geese from Wis. Park

Fake Dogs Scare Real Geese from Wis. Park

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — Parks officials in Stevens Point, Wisconsin had a fowl problem. Canadian Geese were making a mess of a park, so officials enlisted cardboard versions of man's best friend. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins