The tree-of-life notion remains a reasonable fit for the eukaryotes, but emerging knowledge about bacteria suggests that the micro-biosphere is much more like a web, with information of all kinds, including genes, traveling in all directions simultaneously. Microbes also appear to take a much more active role in their own evolution than the so-called “higher” animals. This flies in the face of the more radical versions of Darwinism, which posit that the environment, and nothing else, selects genes, and that there is no intelligence, divine or otherwise, behind evolution — especially not in the form of organisms themselves making intentional changes to their heritable scaffolding. To suggest that organisms as primitive as bacteria are capable of controlling their own evolution is obviously silly.
John Verdon originally shared this post:
Research shows that bacteria have astonishing powers to engineer the environment, to communicate and to affect human well-being.