Evolution's New Wrinkle: Proteins With 'Cruise Control' Act Like Adaptive Machines
ScienceDaily (Nov. 12, 2008) — A team of Princeton University scientists has discovered that chains of proteins found in most living organisms act like adaptive machines, possessing the ability to control their own evolution.
The research, which appears to offer evidence of a hidden mechanism guiding the way biological organisms respond to the forces of natural selection, provides a new perspective on evolution, the scientists said.
The researchers -- Raj Chakrabarti, Herschel Rabitz, Stacey Springs and George McLendon -- made the discovery while carrying out experiments on proteins constituting the electron transport chain (ETC), a biochemical network essential for metabolism. A mathematical analysis of the experiments showed that the proteins themselves acted to correct any imbalance imposed on them through artificial mutations and restored the chain to working order.
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Thinking about how penguins developed into the forms that exist today, this research is remarkable. Feathered dinosaurs into birdlike creatures into clades of birds that are astounding in their families' individual array. Wow.
Image courtesy of: http://www.southchinasea.org/miranda2/wallacebig.jpg