I guess it came as a surprise to Robert that one of his more scientifically suspect posts would be challenged by anyone on this list, since most of the time he is allowed to go scot free.
Robert is entirely wrong about the human genome project and its significance. It was and is important precisely because not only "some useful generality about
all humans was being produced," a Robert put it, but that a huge amount of what we have learned and are learning about the human genome ever since depended on having that first representative sequence.
As for horizontal gene transfer, I simply challenged Robert to come up with a scenario, which he declined to do. How about this one:
A Neanderthal man and a modern human woman are swimming together in a lake. The woman is ovulating at the time. A snippet of the Neanderthal's DNA, say from his skin, hair, or bodily fluids, floats through the water, up the woman's vagina, and makes contact with the egg. The DNA is taken up across the egg's cell membrane, and across the nuclear membrane, where various integrase enzymes incorporate it into the genome. (by the way, it doesn't count if some of his semen floats in the direction of the egg, as from a biological point of view that would be considered conventional interbreeding and not horizontal gene transfer.)
There, that wasn't so hard, was it?
That's it for me, but interested in hearing from others if they wish.
On Tue, Aug 12, 2008 at 11:28 AM, Robt Mann <[log in to unmask]>
The insolent, arrogant Michael Balter wrote:
It is rarsome useful generality about
all humans was being produced.e that one sees as many factual
and conceptual errors in one place as Robert has provided us in his
post, but let me focus on just one: In terms of DNA polynucleotide
sequence, individual humans vary by less than one base-pair per
implies this is a negligible proportion. But 10^-3, in a total
of 10^9, is not obviously neglible, is it?
Neither Venter nor anyone else
involved in the human genome project pretended that the sequence they
produced was the only sequence that existed, ie that it was anything
more than a reference sequence. But producing such a reference
sequence was a huge accomplishment, and it is now possible to sequence
part or all of the genome of any particular individual because of the
new methodologies that were developed and continue to be improved
fact remains unchallenged - J. Celera Venter & key
other operatives used the term "the human genome" in a
knowingly deceitful way, implying that some useful generality about
all humans was being produced.
And the sequence provided a huge
amount of new information as anyone who has paid any attention will
know, ranging from a reliable estimate of the number of
should we believe that figure is now stable, settled? It went
down by a factor of several during "the human genome
, a new ability to identify previously
unknown genes, the ability to compare our genome with that of chimps
and other animals, and of course the HapMap project would not have
been possible without it.
Oh, one more thing: horizontal gene transfer was probably important in
bacterial evolution, but I wouldn't count on it having much to do with
human evolution--unless Robert wants to provide us with a scenario of
how Neanderthal genes made their way into the human genome other than
much support for that first fine insolent outburst, eh? No
denial, indeed, that HGT may have occurred between Neanderthal &
human - which is all I suggested. I made no
implication of HGT having 'much to do with human evolution', nor of
any frequency, even vaguely. I merely suggested the
possibility. Without contradicting that, Balter issues insults.
Goebbels wouldn't have hired you, Michael - you're too
crude, too obviously stupid.
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
Email: [log in to unmask]
Balter's Blog: michael-balter.blogspot.com