Bacterial Complexity | The Institute for Creation Research
Bacterial Complexity
Yet another layer of complexity has been added to the lowly bacterial cell. It has been discovered they can undergo genetic silencing to guard themselves from mutations. A researcher stated this finding is “an extremely important system that had not been appreciated until now."1

Prior to this discovery, it was thought all parts of the circular chromosome of the bacteria were fully expressed. In other words, the bacterium could not control chromosome accessibility.

The article states,

Bacteria can become infected with viruses that integrate into their genomes, becoming genetic elements called prophages. Under certain conditions, these prophages can lead to the death of the bacterial cell. Finding and silencing these regions is critical for the cell's survival.1

Now it’s been discovered bacteria can regulate their gene (DNA) expression by way of a simple but interesting energy-rich molecule called polyphosphate (or polyP)—ubiquitous in the living world. It targets a specific protein in the bacterial genome (the total genetic information) that contains problematic elements (e.g. prophages), preventing their transcription (production of RNA molecules using the bacterial DNA strand as a template). Such an important step silences parts of a bacterium’s chromosome (genetic elements) that can cause problems such as harmful mutations. When polyphosphate is absent there is a mobilization of deleterious transposons (DNA elements) and prophages, resulting in cell death via DNA damage.

Bacteria also have areas with dense protein-occupied chromatin called heterochromatin—a tightly packed form of DNA that, among other things, regulates gene expression. Microbiologists suggest polyP is also vital in heterochromatin formation in bacteria.2 This is important because a “lack of polyP leads to the derepression [removal of repression] of MGEs [mobile genetic elements] and provide the first evidence that polyP might act in DNA damage control by preventing the mobilization of toxic MGEs.”2

This discovery of self-protection through selective genetic silencing indicates that bacteria are once again far from simple cells3 and reflects the mind of the all-wise Creator.

References
1. Bacterial genome is regulated by an ancient molecule.’ Phys.org. Posted on phys.org January 6, 2022, accessed January 28, 2022.
2. Beaufay, F. et al. 2021. Polyphosphate drives bacterial heterochromatin formation. Science Advances 7: (52).
3. Sherwin, F. 2001. Just How Simple Are Bacteria? Acts & Facts. 30 (2); Thomas, B. Bacteria Study Shoots Down ‘Simple Cell’ Assumptions. Creation Science Update. Posted on ICR.org January 4, 2010, accessed February 3, 2022.


* Dr. Sherwin is Research Scientist at the Institute for Creation Research. He earned an M.A. in zoology from the University of Northern Colorado and received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Pensacola Christian College.
The Latest
ACTS & FACTS
Honoring Pioneers of Creation
It’s always fun to catch up with old friends. We recently asked some pioneers of the creation movement to share with us where they are in their...

ACTS & FACTS
Henry M. Morris and Duane T. Gish: Advancing the Cause of Christ
    The following excerpts by Dr. Henry Morris and Dr. Duane Gish were taken from the first issue of the Creation-Science...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Pioneer Don DeYoung
I first met Dr. Henry Morris in 1973 when he spoke in chapel at Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana. With a growing interest in creation studies,...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Pioneer Larry Vardiman
Larry and Jeannette Vardiman   During my second year in graduate school at Colorado State University, I received a phone call...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Pioneer David Coppedge
David Coppedge   I’ve lived in Santa Clarita, California, since 1992, but I grew up in the San Fernando Valley. My parents...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Pioneer Russell Humphreys
Russell Humphreys   After I retired in 2008 from being an associate professor for the Institute for Creation Research, I moved...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Pioneer Gary Parker
Gary Parker   In rural south Florida where I grew up (Arcadia, DeSoto County), where my wife, Mary, and I had the first of our...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Pioneer John Baumgardner
My wife, Mary, and I currently live in central Virginia near Lynchburg and Liberty University, where I serve as research professor emeritus in the School...

ACTS & FACTS
John C. Whitcomb: God’s Providence and The Genesis Flood
John C. Whitcomb   John C. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris published The Genesis Flood in 1961. For the first time, a book presented...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Pioneer John Morris
Several years have passed since I retired from the Institute for Creation Research. Let me emphasize “retired.” I didn’t leave ICR....