Thursday, 12 January 2012

Evolution of Protein Complexes


One of the recurring modes adopted by Intelligent Design creationists is to adopt the strategy whereby an example of a complex biological system is looked at and it is decided that evolution cannot explain its origin. We see this enshrined in bogus concepts such as ‘irreducible complexity’, ‘specified functional information’ and the like. By claiming a process of inference, ID creationists seek to declare that an intelligent designer must have been involved in the appearance of such complex systems.
Of course, the problem with this strategy is that one by one, these examples are likely to fall to genuine scientific advance (examples include Behe’s favourites such as the bacterial flagellum and the vertebrate immune system).  A neat example of  an approach to better understanding the evolution of protein complexes has just appeared as an Advance Online Publication at Nature (Finnigan et al (2012) Nature “Evolution of increased complexity in a molecular machine”doi:10.1038/nature10724). There’s also an accompanying News and Views article (Doolittle (2012) Nature “Evolutionary biology: A ratchet for protein complexity” doi:10.1038/nature10816). 

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