From gene to social regulation: been there; done that!

Excerpt: Today at 6pm Eastern time, I”ll be on the program Virtually Speaking Science, where MIT science-writing professor Tom Levenson and I will discuss my recent Pacific Standard cover story, “The Social Life of Genes“; my book-in-progress, The Orchid and the Dandelion

My comment: I continue to read and hear much of what I’ve spent two decades detailing in the context of model organisms, like the honeybee with my citations to articles like: Pheromones in a superorganism: from gene to social regulation (2010). What I’m not seeing or hearing is any information linking the epigenetic effects of food odors to de novo creation of olfactory receptor genes and the control of reproduction via the metabolism of nutrients to species-specific pheromones that control reproduction in species from microbes to man.

Perhaps the lack of information on the biological basis of adaptive evolution via conserved molecular mechanisms is due to its extremely technical nature.  However, it’s a misrepresentation to say anything indicating that the mechanisms underlying species diversity are not well known, or to indicate that we are just beginning to learn about them. Perhaps that’s just an inference that I am tuned to hear because in 1996, for example, I co-authored a review article for Hormones and Behavior that included a section on molecular epigenetics. Our mammalian model of hormone-organized and hormone-activated behavior was extended to invertebrates in 2000 by Elekonich and Robinson.

Nowadays, when anyone indicates to others that not much is known about epigenetic cause and effect, it frustrates me, probably because I published “Human pheromones and food odors: epigenetic influences on the socioaffective nature of evolved behaviors”in 2012 and “Nutrient-dependent/pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution: a model” in 2013.  The most recent published review includes examples of adaptive evolution in microbes, nematodes, insects, other mammals, and a human population that arose in what is now central China during the past ~30K years. Thus, there is a detailed history of the social life of genes that began with our publication in 1995 of “The Scent of Eros: Mysteries of Odor in Human Sexuality.”

I’m beginning to think that by the time David Dobbs publishes “The Orchid and the Dandelion” in 2015, it will read like a book review that includes two decades of additional information I have supplied. However, maybe there will be more botany included since the molecular mechanisms of plant and animal reproduction also appear to be conserved by the thermodynamics of intercelluar signaling, intranuclear interactions, and organism-level thermoregulation required for adaptive evolution sans mutations, which no experiments have shown are ever fixed in the DNA of organized genomes in any species.

Author: James Kohl

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