Monday, January 29, 2007

Selection Criteria

Natural selection's center stage role in discussions involving the origin of life, evolution and intelligent design make it imperative to be clear about what is referred to when the term is invoked. It will be invoked frequently at this blog in coming weeks. Therefore I thought it might be helpful to delineate some concepts and apply verbal handles which can be referenced in coming posts.

Natural selection can entail subtle differences in nuance when applied to origin of life explanations as opposed to an evolutionary process. Since complex systems of interacting biomolecular components are identified more frequently with already existing cells, theorized selective properties of hypothesized building blocks are often viewed differently. The selective value of particular biochemicals might be attributed to a chemical selection bias creating a greater likelihood that products of specified chemical reactions would be essential cellular components. Essential recipe ingredients are looked for before interactions are envisioned. Deterministic mechanisms are the focal point of selection.

Cellular selection tends to be more of the jigsaw variety. The selective value of a cellular component is analyzed within the context of its utility as a part of a larger multi-component mechanism. There need be no genomic bias in the direction of change toward a specific nucleic acid configuration; only a biologically reasonable possibility of generating the needed encoding configuration. That configuration tends to be linked to specific protein properties enabling interaction with other proteins.

In coming posts I intend to highlight the significance of differing selection criteria to different biological phenomenon.

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