Monday, June 26, 2017
Hyenas and pseudomonas

Hyenas and pseudomonas

Volume 1501, Number 10

Changing our science thinking 

Most of us believe that hyenas are pretty well programmed to scavenge carrion.

If the environment changes, such as in areas where hunting bans appear, hyenas begin to hunt game and livestock and start ignoring the carrion.

(Without hunting in the delineated areas the lion numbers increase, the prey declines, then most of the lions succumb to starvation, disease, and especially poaching. Anti-poaching isn’t funded very well without hunters’ dollars. Lion bones and organs finance gangs and guerrilla groups in Africa much like drug sales do in the U.S.)

This is an example of how the environment alone forces a species to change. There are no new genes introduced, and there are likely no abnormal numbers of mutations in the DNA. However, behavior is changed by the environment, and the young mature as hunters not scavengers. The best (hyena) hunters reproduce and change the species to hunters, at least in that area.

Species of bacteria, without brains or nervous systems, communicate and cooperate. This is fueling a line of investigation into antibiotics that are much less likely to generate resistance in the bacterial strains. (Described in a recent Scientific American article)

A branch of science called sociomicrobiology is leading investigations into medicines that block bacterial communication. Current antibiotics damage the bacteria’s rinds or interfere with their reproduction. Evolutionary theory suggests that blocking “social behaviors” of microscopic plants shouldn’t encourage development of resistant strains.

So we have mammals changing from scavenging to hunting behavior – and raising young with the new behavioral trait – in response to changes in their environment. And we have microscopic plant colonies dying out when their ability to detect nearby plants and trade (information, hormones and siderophores*) with their neighbors is blocked.

We once “knew” that some animals communicated and worked together but that plants couldn’t. We also were sure that animals evolved only through mutations of their genetic materials. It ain’t necessarily so, and we’ve had to change our thinking.

We see examples of inflexible thinking in Costa Mesa.

Serious, adult-age people announce that the Mayor or Pro-tem give business to “developers” and make them rich. Of course, that would be a crime and lead to prison sentences for the Mayor and Pro tem. No evidence, though, or the Grand Jury would be right on it.

Why do they make farcical, unsupported accusations? Probably for attention. In effect, they can’t sing or dance so they get attention by making outrageous and unsupported claims.

Like the bacteria, they sense nearby “like-me beings” and send out messages to establish links. They trade strokes and support. Like the Pseudomonas bacteria and unlike the hyenas, they serve no useful purpose for human culture.

* Siderophores are molecules that Pseudomonas bacteria use to steal iron from their host cells. Siderophores are released when sufficient numbers of Pseudomonas are detected nearby. Pseudomonas bacteria are linked to plant and animal diseases, and are identified as a cause of several types of wound infections and pneumonias. It is rapidly becoming resistant to most antibiotics.


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