Lynn MARGULIS


title: Lynn MARGULIS
subtitle: Symbiogenesis

Natural Theology

{: #natural-theology }

To me, the Gaia hypothesis, or theory as some would have it, owes its origin
to a dual set of sources: the immense success of the international space
program that began with the launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union in 1957 and
the lively but lonely scientific imagination, inspiration, and persistence of
Jim Lovelock. Part of the contentiousness and ambiguity attendant on most
current descriptions of the Gaia hypothesis stems from confused definitions,
incompatible belief systems of the sci- entific authors, and inconsistent
terminology across the many a¤ected disciplines (for example, atmospheric
chemistry, environmental studies, geology, microbiology, planetary astronomy,
space science, zoology).

Anger, dismissive attitude, and miscomprehension also come from the tendency
of the human mind toward dichotomization. In this limited summary whose
purpose is to draw attention to several recent, excellent books on Gaia
science and correlated research trends, I list the major postulates of the
original Gaia statement and point to recent avenues of in- vestigation into
the verification and extension of Lovelock’s original ideas. I try to minimize
emotionally charged rhetoric aptly indulged in and recently reviewed by
Kirchner (2002) and to maximize the proximity of the entries on my list to
directly observable, rather than computable, natural phenomena. I
self-consciously align this contribution to a field ignored by most of today’s
scientific establishment and their funding agencies, one considered obsolete,
anachronistic, dispensable, and atavistic.

To me this field in its original form, ‘‘natural theology’’ that became
‘‘natural history,’’ should be revived with the same enthusiasm with which it
thrived in the 18th and early 19th centuries. That age of exploration of the
seas and lands generated natural history in the same way that satellite
technology and the penetration of space brought forth Gaia theory. In fact
when Lovelock said, ‘‘People untrained … do not revere … Geosphere
Bio-sphere System, but they can … see the word Gaia embracing both the
intuitive side of science and the wholly rational understanding that comes
from Earth System Science’’ he makes a modern plan for the return to the
respected natural history, the enterprise from which biology, geology,
atmospheric science, and meteorology had not yet irreversibly divorced
themselves. Is he not explicit when he writes, ‘‘We have some distance still
to travel because a proper understanding of the Earth requires the abolition
of disciplinary boundaries’’? For the science itself, although precluded
today by administrative and budgetary constraints, the advisable action would
be a return to natural history, the status quo ante, before those disciplines
were even established.

Sexualité et commerce génétique planétaire

{: #sexualite-et-commerce-genetique-planetaire lang=“fr” }

Les hommes exploitent l’énergie des combustibles fossiles vieux de millions
d’années comme le charbon, le pétrole et le gaz naturel, ils n’ont pas encore
puisé dans des gisements d’information vieux de plusieurs milliards
d’années. La micro-électronique de la photosynthèse, le génie génétique, le
développement de l’embryon et d’autres technologies naturelles sont là qui les
attendent. L’accès à de tels stocks d’informations, la maîtrise de leur
mystère les conduiront à des changements bien au-delà de ce qu’ils peuvent
imaginer aujourd’hui.
{: lang=“fr” }

Sex and reproduction

{: #sex-and-reproduction }

Reproduction is the increase in number of cells or organisms, whether
unicellular or multicellular. Growth is increase in size. All species of
organisms grow and reproduce, although the details of how they do it
vary. Even though fusion of parental gametes accompanies reproduction in
humans and in the animals we best know, biologically, sex is entirely
distinguishable from reproduction. Sex is defined as the formation of an
organism whose genes come from more than a single individual. Sex, the
recombining of genes from two or more individuals, does occur in prokaryotes,
but prokaryotic sex is not directly required for reproduction.

Prokaryotic cells do not open their membranes and fuse their contents.
Rather, genes from the fluid medium, from other prokaryotes, from viruses, or
from elsewhere unidirectionally enter prokaryotic cells. A prokaryote that
carries some of its original genes and some new genes is called a recom-
binant. This propensity for gene uptake, along with the lack of a nucleus and
the other features listed in Table I-2, defines one of the two highest taxa,
or superkingdoms: Prokarya, organisms composed of bacterial cells. All other
organisms are Eukarya, organisms composed of nucleated cells, that evolved by
symbiogenesis (Table I-2).

Eukaryotic cells reproduce by mitosis. They form chromosomes—tightly coiled
gene packages bound together by proteins and attached to the inner membrane of
the nucleus. At least two chromosomes are located in the nucleus of every
eukaryotic cell; some protoctists have more than 16,000 chromosomes in a
single nucleus at certain stages. Although all cells and species of organisms
made of cells must either reproduce or die, the way that eukaryotes make more
eukaryotic cells or organisms made of cells is highly peculiar to each of the
eukaryotic kingdoms and forms the basis of our classification system.

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