Monday, December 2, 2013

Hypothesis: How Toxins of Power Are Neutralized or Removed

DNA: a molecular machine
Regular readers know that one of the problems with the hypothesis that toxins of power originate at the microscopic level (virus, single celled microbes, etc.) is that some people in power are not overcome by corruption.

Oh yes, the power of their office may stimulate toxins, however, as the hypothetical formulas for toxins of power origination show, those toxins can also be neutralized or overcome by those who are exposed to the toxins while in power, i.e. while in office (e.g. Tables For The Toxins In Power, The Power That Corrupts).

There has been no hypothesis on this Toxins of Power blog, up until now, for how this could happen.

A paper published recently details how pathogens and parasites are converted from dangerous or deadly behavior into mutualistic, symbiotic behavior, which is a complete change of their behavior from toxic bad to helpful good:
Like pretty much all multi-cellular organisms, humans enjoy the benefits of helpful bacteria. (As you may have heard, there are more bacteria in the human body than cells.) These mutualistic microbes live within the body of a larger organism, and, like any good long-term houseguest, help out their hosts, while making a successful life for themselves. It’s a win-win situation for both parties.

Scientists still don’t understand exactly how these relationships began, however. To find out, a team of researchers from the University of California, Riverside, used protein markers to create a detailed phylogenic tree of life for 405 taxa from the Proteobacteria phylum—a diverse group that includes pathogens such as salmonella as well as both mutualistic and free-living species.

Those analyses revealed that mutualism in Proteobacteria independently evolved between 34 to 39 times, the researchers report in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.  The team was a bit surprised to find that this happened so frequently, inferring that evolution apparently views this lifestyle quite favorably.

Their results also show that mutualism most often arises in species that were originally parasites and pathogens.
(Microbial Languages: Rehabilitation of the Unseen -- 2, emphasis in original). This is a discovery which clearly indicates that fundamental changes take place in microbial life, changes which convert them from a "toxic behavior pathogen" into a "helpful behavior symbiont."

I will, in future posts, consider papers that indicate the opposite, that is, the conversion from symbiotic microbes (good guys) into pathogens or parasites (bad guys).

Potential triggering sources for such changes from good to bad has been discussed in Dredd Blog posts Are Microbes The Origin of PTSD? and Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 16.

Those posts discuss the abrupt changes in all Earth life, including microbes, that happened during the meteorite impact which caused the Fifth Mass Extinction of most Earth life (~90%) some 65 million years ago.

The hypothesis contemplated in today's post should also consider, in bad->good and good->bad behavioral changes, the potential damage to molecular machines within microbes, as well as the repair of damaged molecular machines, as potential reasons for changes in behavior.

In other words, let's consider damaging events as triggers for toxins, but let's also consider repair via healing and remedial behavior as factors for toxin neutralization or removal (see e.g. Putting A Face On Machine Mutation - 4 and the series beginning with The Uncertain Gene).

But, the bottom line is that the genetic material in microbial life, which has been through several mass extinction events on Earth, and perhaps elsewhere, may have recorded reactions within their genes that can be triggered to re-produce bad toxic behavior or good symbiotic behavior, depending on the environmental dynamics being experienced at a given time.

The hypothesis would have to show: 1) how the advent of toxins in an individual who becomes powerful triggers improper genetic ons or offs, and 2) how certain remedial behaviors (think epigenetic behavior) could neutralize or remove that toxic behavior by re-setting the proper genetic ons or offs.

The bottom line is that we are considering both genetic and epigenetic factors in this hypothesis (see e.g. the series The "It's In Your Genes" Myth).

That is all for this post.

The next post in this series is here.

The following video indicates that epigenetic dynamics take place in microbes ... genes do not control them any more or less than genes control us:

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