Antibiotic resistance, evolution and public policy

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Syne, Feb 13, 2017.

  1. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Agreed! You get it.
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  3. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Indeed. And here's the game they play:

    Scientist: "Bacteria evolve to resist antibiotics."
    Right winger: "It's not evolution; it's ADAPTATION! That's completely different."
    Scientist: "It is a persistent change, brought about by mutation and natural selection. It is carried forward by genetic inheritance. That is the definition of evolution."
    Right winger: "No, see here - you can call it adaptation if it's a genetic change, because it's sort of adapting."
    Scientist: "OK, call it what you like."

    Scientist: "Here we see an ongoing change in the live birth of skinks. As they evolve . . ."
    Right winger: "That has nothing to do with evolution! It's ADAPTATION! See, there's no such thing as evolution."
    Scientist: "But you just said adaptation covered evolution, so . . . ."
    Right winger: "Why are you scientists so deceptive? It can't be both!"
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  5. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    They use it correctly, however.
    The mechanisms that genetically establish antibiotic resistance are specifically included in the mechanisms of evolution - they are evolutionary mechanisms.
    Not if you are talking about genetically established and inherited capabilities
    It is not.
    Nonsense. Speciation is a matter of human classification - it isn't a part of evolution, it's a consequence of it for human classification systems. There's some doubt it even makes sense at the bacterial level of antibiotic resistance or novel metabolic capabilities - on the one hand one would like to keep the specific identity for the overall organism even if it has all these new capabilities, on the other hand giving the same species name to two organisms that eat different food, are killed by different chemicals, and differ in such a large proportion of their genomes, is hard to defend.
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  7. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Not always. In fact, it's often used - the term - in contrast to evolutionary change.

    Meanwhile, those other mechanisms, which are not adaptations, are evolutionary mechanisms entirely.
    It mentions and deals with chromosomal as well as plastid and other non-chromosomal evolutionary change - none of which it calls adaptation.
    I'm going to repeat what I posted, which I admit the language of that Wiki article tends to obscure (so your confusion is easy to understand). Here, again, the ordinary observation that "species" are a human classification, something people invented:
    or in other words, the same point being made by your Wiki article:
    A human invented "modern biological" classification system, based on what evolution has bequeathed - the consequences of biological evolution.
  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Species are a taxonomic category. Granted, they are a special one, a fundamental unit in a sense, but a human defined category nevertheless.

    All modern taxonomic categories, such as "species", are based on presumed or demonstrated evolutionary relationships.
    I linked you an entire paper on the complexity of antibiotic resistance, full of examples.
  9. Randwolf Ignorance killed the cat Valued Senior Member

    What? Fundamentalist sites do it all the time...

    I am getting confused about this. Animals and plant and things are said to be able to adapt, right? But then what is the difference between adaptation and evolution? Because if animals and plant and stuff can adapt to, for example, living in an unusual area, then what is the difference?

    Adaptation is "A change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment," but even after adapting, the organism remains the same thing it originally was. Adaptation is reversible, so long as the gene pool remains diverse. The finch gene pool actually contains a large variety of beak styles. In an area of limited food resources, a particular beak style, most suited to that food source becomes dominant, but the bird is still a finch. If other food becomes available, other beak styles will arise, especially if access to a general gene pool of finches remains available.

    Evolution, however, claims that changes accumulate to the point that an organism is no longer the same species. And that the changes become so great that breeding with organisms of the former type is no longer possible; that is, the change is not reversible.

    There is lots of evidence of adaptation. There is no evidence of evolution.

    Question: Are evolution and adaptation different?

    Response: "Evolution" is such a broad term, simply meaning "change," that quite honestly it can be stated that adaptation qualifies as a type of evolution. However, when "evolution" is stated to the layperson, the concept is that one sort of organism--like a bacteria--through time, chance, mutations, and natural selection, becomes another sort of organism, like an elephant. If this is the sort of evolution being referred to, then adaptation is in a different category altogether.

    Adaptation is the process whereby a series of variations already within a population gets winnowed down to the few that are best suited to any particular environment. This is not a matter of adding anything new to the genetic material of the population, but simply weeding out what is not working as well as some other variations. For instance, a population of bears which wandered north at some point gradually lost members with less fat, less aggressiveness, and darker fur, eventually leaving us with the white, aggressive, and fat-layered polar bears. There may have been some mutations or combinations which increased the fat or the aggressiveness or the lightness of color, but nothing which changed the essential "bear-ness" of the beast.

    This is radically different from the type of evolution which posits that some kind of unicellular organism, through millions of mutations, became that bear in the first place.

    Once again, adaptation / natural selection is being extrapolated to explain molecules-to-man evolution.

    Q. Many creationists say that microevolution does occur, but macroevolution does not. Isn't microevolution just macroevolution taking place in very small increments?

    A. From the perspective of an evolutionist who believes that evolution is responsible for all the diversity of life on earth, i.e. all organisms are descended from a common ancestral form, the process called macroevolution does consist of numerous little changes that could be described as microevolutionary steps. However, from the perspective of a creationist who does not believe that evolution is responsible for all the diversity of life on earth, i.e. all organisms are not descended from a common ancestral form, microevolution does not "add-up" to macroevolution over time.
    From the creationist perspective, let's define these two types of "evolution."
    Microevolution - variation within the Biblical kind.
    Macroevolution - the changing of one Biblical kind into another kind.
    Could microevolution occur within a kind? I certainly think so. It is, in fact, essential that organisms adapt over the generations to their changing environments; otherwise, all life would be threatened with extinction. But the adaptations of various kinds (species, as scientists would identify them) occur as a result of the variable genetic expression made possible by the vast amount of genetic information already present within a population of any given kind. However, each kind received the totality of its genetic information at Creation, and the expression of any characteristics related to that kind is limited to the genetic information with which it began. Evolution insists that new information can be added to a species' genome (the total amount of an organism's genetic information), arising by chance, through random mutations, and producing new characteristics in certain individuals of a population. Then, as a result of these new characteristics, those individuals have higher survival statistics and the characteristics become part of the overall population over time.

    Beyond our wacko fundie friends, there is still a distinction:

    Adaptation refers to the process wherein certain groups or individuals change their ways in order to be better suited to their environment and habitat. This is change is needed so that they can survive and maintain normal functioning in their community. For example, during winters or cold days, individuals learn to alter their homes and personal clothes to be able to live through the chilling temperatures.

    Evolution, though, takes a long time. It is a process in which the genetic structure and physical anatomy change in relation to the changes happening in the environment. It does not occur overnight, but invokes generations in order to turn out into the best being suitable. Human beings are indeed an example, as evidenced from our ancestors the Homo erectus, to Homo sapiens, or basically, us. We are the proof of evolution.

    Generally, evolution refers to change, and in particular in our gene-centered age, change due to changes in genes. Mutation changes DNA sequence, and if that change is transmitted to the next generation, the population’s gene pool, its set of genotype variants, has changed—it has ‘evolved’.

    Adaptation generally refers to change that leads organisms to be suited to their local circumstances in some way, when that change is due to changes in the mix of genetic variants in a species that is there. It is genetic change that alters the resulting organism in ways that are different and more successful in the environment than the genotypes (that is, the organisms with the genotypes) that had been there. The usual image is that of natural selection screening out the less successful genotypes, with the result that the ones that persist increase in their frequency in the population.
    Here are some flashcards for you to play with Syne:
  10. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Species are taxonomic categories, invented by humans for human purposes of classification.
    Plenty of different species can interbreed. That's not how the taxonomic category is defined.
  11. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    And your speciation has nothing to do with species, so all your mistakes regarding species don't matter. Got it.

    Meanwhile, recall the basic scenario:
  12. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    It is untrue to say that Christians disagree with speciation via evolution.

    A particular US sect of Christians holds that (totally unscientific) view, that's all.

    The major Christian denominations are perfectly happy with science and have no hang-up about evolution in any way.
  13. billvon Valued Senior Member

    That's a good point; further, even within those sects, many people accept evolution and the rest of what science brings us. Thus it is more the right-wing republicans, rather than a specific religion, doing the denying.
  14. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    That's an interesting view of it. I had not realised it was that political these days. All part of the notorious"culture wars", I suppose. I do find it depressing when people wear the badge of ignorance with pride. We ride a wave of anti-intellectualism these days, it seems.

    I suppose I should say that what I was referring to in my post was the theology of the denominations concerned, rather than a straw poll of the people in the pew, many of whom may quite understandably not have the given the issue enough thought to form a firm opinion.
  15. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    What are you saying I am confusing with what, please?

    And I am talking about Christendom rather than the USA.
  16. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Another health risk due to Trump's anti-science agenda:
    Trump energizes the anti-vaccine movement in Texas

    By Lena H. Sun February 20

    AUSTIN — The group of 40 people gathered at a popular burger and fish taco restaurant in San Antonio listened eagerly to the latest news about the anti-vaccine fight taking place in the Texas legislature.

    Some mothers in the group had stopped immunizing their young children because of doubts about vaccine safety. Heads nodded as the woman giving the statehouse update warned that vaccine advocates wanted to “chip away” at parents’ right to choose. But she also had encouraging news.

    “We have 30 champions in that statehouse,” boasted Jackie Schlegel, executive director of Texans for Vaccine Choice. “Last session, we had two.”

    Now they also have one in the White House.

    President Trump’s embrace of discredited theories linking vaccines to autism has energized the anti-vaccine movement. Once fringe, the movement is becoming more popular, raising doubts about basic childhood health care among politically and geographically diverse groups.

    Public health experts warn that this growing movement is threatening one of the most successful medical innovations of modern times. Globally, vaccines prevent the deaths of about 2.5 million children every year, but deadly diseases such as measles and whooping cough still circulate in populations where enough people are unvaccinated.

    The battle comes at a time when increasing numbers of Texas parents are choosing not to immunize their children because of “personal beliefs.” Measles was eliminated in the United States more than 15 years ago, but the highly contagious disease has made a return in recent years, including in Texas, in part because of parents refusing to vaccinate their children.A 2013 outbreak in Texas infected 21 people, many of them unvaccinated children.

    The modern anti-vaccine movement is based on a fraud. A study published almost 20 years ago purported to show a link between childhood vaccines and autism. The data was later found to be falsified, and the study was retracted.

    . . . .

    Overall statewide vaccination rates remain high — over 98 percent. But in some parts of Texas, vaccine coverage is slipping below the 90 to 95 percent level that experts say is needed to prevent an outbreak. Many private schools, including in the Austin area, have the highest rates of unvaccinated children, exceeding 20 percent.
  17. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Ah OK, so when you say "Christians reject" evolution you mean a large minority of people do so, rather than that the theology of their religion does. What you mean is some Christians, or many Christians, reject it. A sweeping claim that Christians in general do so is inaccurate and misleading. The theology of most mainstream Christian denominations does not require evolution or speciation to be rejected.

    I only make an issue of this because it is part of the straw-man caricature of Christianity that some of the New Atheists like to waste their time attacking - whether through dishonesty or ignorance I don't know. So I like to put this straight whenever I come across it.

    I gather however that there is still something of a problem, in the Catholic church at least, over the existence of an actual first man and woman (an Adam and an Eve). There seems to be a reluctance to let go of this idea, even though palaeontology does not support it. I am sure this is due to the doctrine of Original Sin and consequent need for redemption, hence the sacrifice of Christ etc., that are all built on this idea of Adam and Eve. Maybe it will take them another couple of hundred years to get past that........

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  18. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Evolutionary processes do not name or classify their own consequences. "Species" are human taxonomic categories. "Speciation" is the emergence over time of "species" - the emergence over time of organisms suitable for grouping into populations that fit the criteria for belonging to that taxonomic category.

    Again: you are posting this in a thread about antibiotic resistance - a feature that emerges among populations of organisms sometimes quite difficult to classify into "species", and among which "speciation" is therefore a troublesome and sometimes misleading concept.

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  19. river


    Species came about because they could not breed with another of their like . Meaning breeding is not possible., between the two . They can't make childern .
  20. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Most canid species can interbreed.

    Darwin studied the finches on the Galapagos Islands, and established the basis of the modern understanding of species - which he published in book entitled "On the Origin of Species" - partly on what he came to understand by that study:

    most of them can interbreed, many of them do.

    For example.

    As far as antibiotic resistance, the organisms involved "interbreed" with each other - swap and pick up genetic code - across much larger taxonomic gaps than mere species.
  21. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 70 years old Valued Senior Member

    Hmmm.... indeed

    In fact double Hmmm....

    Species came about because they could not breed with another of their like

    Cart before horse time there

    Species comes from a group which divides and the two groups live in diverse regions leading to diverse adaptions until the adaptions overwhelm the ability to mate

    And bugs do this swapping and picking up genetic codes from each other a lot

    During my Registered Nurse training we were shown this process being filmed

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  22. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Some children cannot be vaccinated. Herd immunity protects them. Further, vaccinations are only between 90% and 98% effective, so not every child who is vaccinated is protected.

    But to your first claim - if you really think that anti-vaxxers can provide a service by "helping reduce the population" among those children you are a disgusting human being, and I am very glad you disagree with me on almost everything. I'm proud you find nothing in common with my morality.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017
  23. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    The origin of species is central to evolutionary theory. If creationism is at odds with the evolutionary origin of species, it is completely at odds with the entire theory.
    So is adaptation like that, as you refer to it, among the evolutionary processes in your view, or not?
    If it is, we have no quarrel - among the evolutionary processes and mechanisms that produce new species are some you like to call "adaptation", and that's ok with me.
    And everyone else's use of the term "evolution" - the origin of the species, as Darwin put it.
    That's false. For one thing, the unvaccinated, if too numerous, destroy herd immunity - a primary benefit of vaccination. For another, they provided a reservoir of disease that prevents the elimination of it entirely, imposing a permanent burden of vaccination and a permanent risk of newly adapted disease.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017

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