Cryptococcal fungi have evolved mechanisms for eluding their protist predators, giving them an inadvertent advantage over look-alike immune cells in humans, porpoises and other mammals
By Jennifer Frazer
Excerpt: So how can an organism that seems to enjoy a full and rich life on plants and dirt possibly find itself suited to living inside humans? The answer, it turns out, may be an accident of evolution.
My comment: What is portrayed as an accident of evolution exemplifies the thermodynamics of intercellular signaling that enables organism-level thermoregulation. Some theoretical biologists are currently trying to extract the Second Law of Thermodynamics (entropy/physics) from the link to chemistry and biologically-based adaptations, which unfortunately enable Cryptococcal virulence.
The theorists would rather keep their evolutionary “accident” theory and portray virulence simplistically, rather than admit they cannot understand the lack of randomness in the evolution of organismal complexity. Simply put, they think that if physics is removed from mutation-initiated natural selection, they can continue to pretend that their theory of random mutation-driven evolution is correct. Will medical practitioners stop their nonsense?
Pathologists and most medical laboratory scientists understand that nutrient uptake is the physiochemical basis for the molecular mechanisms of thermodynamically controlled adaptations. Those adaptations require organism-level thermoregulation for organisms to maintain epistasis. One of the problems with Cryptococcal fungi is that their epistasis is achieved at our typical body temperature — a fact mentioned in the article.
All they require is a supply of glucose, which is what all organisms require for life. Cellular life that survives by constructing ecological niches in other organisms is quite common. Virulence is not, because even the most primitive of all immune systems is able to recognize self vs. non-self and attempt to remove virulent non-self organisms from their niche. If non-self organisms are not removed, symbiotic cooperation with non-self invaders may result as is typically the case of the human microbiome.
Ask an evolutionary theorist if the gut microbiome is an evolutionary accident and compare their thoughts to the portrayal of the accident of evolution here. Perhaps that way others will learn more about why theorists want to remove physics from their theory of mutation-initiated natural selection. It’s because some of them already realize that nutrient uptake is the basis for the thermodynamics of intercellular signalling in all cells, and they know that control occurs at the organism level. Mutations are not controlled, so organism-level control means no mutation-driven evolution. That’s also why mutations are associated with disease, not adaptive evolution.
Now, we have Cryptococcus exemplified as an accident of adaptive evolution, when it is typically controlled by the human immune system and rarely enters the brain. That’s no accident!
If it does enter the brain, it does not alter its genetic make-up to become cancerous, like cancerous cells do to form a brain tumor. Instead, Cryptococcus continues its nutrient-dependent thermodynamically-controlled life by using glucose in the brain as if the glucose was found anywhere else. A brain tumor, for comparison, exhibits uncontrolled growth due to mutations that enable it to acquire and metabolize more glucose than other cells in brain tissue.
Theorists must extract physics from mutations theory in order to keep their best guess about how evolution occurs (e.g., via natural selection). For the sake of medical practice and health, I think they should quit guessing about how to explain organismal complexity and look at the evidence. Perhaps then they will stop attributing what’s known about biologically based cause and effect in the context of physics and chemistry, to accidents of evolution and to mutations.
See for example: Evidence for Ecological Speciation and Its Alternative
Excerpt: “Evidence for ecological speciation has accumulated from top-down studies of adaptation and reproductive isolation [reviewed in (2, 8, 9)].” [The alternative is] “….mutation-order speciation, divergence occurs when different mutations arise and are fixed in separate populations adapting to similar selection pressures.”
No experimental evidence suggests that any mutations that arise are ever fixed in the DNA of organized genomes in any species from microbes to man. Similarly, Cryptococcus is not fixed in our DNA. Mutations are not beneficial. Virulence may be beneficial if it enables the organism to thermodynamically adapt. If not, virulence is as deadly as mutations are to individual survival and species survival.