Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The deep history of genes and irresponsible reviews

For reasons I won't go into, I was looking up an old review of a paper of mine, that is now published (after originally being rejected a few times). I don't know if I have bad luck, or bad technique, but most of my papers are rejected several times before they are published. I do believe strongly that I've gotten my share of incompetent and irresponsible reviews. One example of an incompetent review is quite relevant, and related to other posts.

In the manuscript in question, I reported finding multiple opsin visual pigment genes in ostracod crustaceans. I concluded that these genes were the result of gene duplications. The reviewer, who admitted not being a molecular biologist, took issue with concluding that multiple genes were due to gene duplication, writing:

"...while humans indeed have 3 opsin genes, it is not certain that they all arose from duplication - the rod, blue, and red/green lines have been separate for millennia, and it is possible that some have entered the genome by other mechanisms."

When I get reviews back, I often take notes (meant only for myself), such that I summarize the reviewers comments, and can understand and remember them later more easily. In response to this reviewer's comments, I wrote:

"True, aliens just MIGHT have come down and put opsins in our genome. Short of that ALL GENES ARISE BY DUPLICATION!!! (He did say he was not a molecular biologist)."

As I wrote on a previous post the dogma among evolutionists now is that most genes originate by duplication. My reviewer had a pre-1950's view of gene evolution. He failed to understand, as Ingram had done as early as 1961, that genes likely have a long history, and a deep common ancestry. The reviewer has failed to come to grips with the common ancestry of genes. Just as pre-Darwinian biologists believed that each species was created independently, my incompetent reviewer, and pre-Ingramian biologists believed that genes may be independently created. I wonder how many other people fail to understand the deep common ancestry of genes.

I wonder how many people fail to grasp the deep common ancestry of all biological entities, united by a deep history, diverging through new combinations, and through specialization of duplicated entities.

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