We are all mutants!

Discover Magazine March 2014


Mutation, Not Natural Selection, Drives Evolution

by Gemma Tarlach

“Molecular evolutionary biologist Masatoshi Nei says Darwin never proved natural selection is the driving force of evolution — because it isn’t.”

Excerpt: ”…it’s his natural selection-busting theory, which Nei developed in the ’80s and expanded on in the 2013 book Mutation-Driven Evolution, that the researcher wants to see embraced, cited and taught in schools.

My comment: Ecological variations cause epigenetically-effected adaptations. That biological fact should be embraced, cited and taught in schools. It seems that molecular evolutionary biologist Masatoshi Nei wants only mutation-driven evolution taught in schools. First he eliminated ecological factors in a 2011 journal article he co-authored: ‘we will not consider geographical and ecological factors because of space limitation. Our primary purpose is to clarify the roles of mutation and selection in the evolution of reproductive isolation…” (p. 813)

In 2011 he did not consider ecological factors “because of space limitation.” In his book Mutation-driven evolution, he was concerned only with populations that were already ecologically isolated, which means they were already ecologically adapted. Nei again eliminated ecological factors. He wrote (with my emphasis):

“In this chapter, we first discuss the roles of chromosomal variation in speciation in the light of recent genomic data and then discuss various mechanisms of speciation by means of genic mutation and selection. We will consider both theories and experimental data that support or do not support a particular speciation model. We will be concerned only with the case of allopatric speciation, in which the populations to be differentiated are geographically or ecologically isolated. My primary purpose is to clarify the roles of mutation and selection in the evolution of reproductive isolation and show that the molecular basis of speciation is more complicated than generally thought at present.” (p. 138)

His primary purpose appears to be deception. In any attempt by serious scientists to clarify the idea of evolution, ecological factors must be considered. Serious scientists are not likely to believe anyone who tells them they are all mutants.

In my model, the ecological variability of nutrients is the determinant of ecological adaptations via the chemical ecology of ecological, social, neurogenic, and socio-cognitive niche construction. Nei tries to ensure that my model is not considered because it details how the epigenetic landscape becomes the physical landscape of DNA in the organized genomes of species from microbes to man without the involvement of mutations. But, in my model, there are examples of nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled ecological adaptations. The examples clearly show there is no such thing as mutation-driven evolution. The biophysical constraints of protein folding make mutation-driven evolution a biological impossibility.

How does Nei manage to make it seem that mutation-driven evolution is biologically plausible? He eliminates ecological factors and evokes “constraint-breaking mutation.”

In Mutation-driven evolution, Nei wrote (with my emphasis):  “In other words, genomic conservation and constraint-breaking mutation is the ultimate source of all biological innovations and the enormous amount of biodiversity in the world. In the view of evolution there is no need of considering teleological elements.” (p. 199)

Why would someone like Nei not constrain himself from evoking nonsensical “constraint-breaking mutation” as the source of biodiversity in the world. Why would he first eliminate ecological factors, which are obviously the source of all the nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled biodiversity in the world.

Has he lost his mind, or just escaped from academic constraints in an attempt to ride the wave of his reported expertise to his death?

Author: James Kohl

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.