Plant Lignin Found in Red Algae

first_imgTime to rewrite the textbooks again.  The story of plant evolution is wrong.  Lignin, a chemical that gives wood its stiffness, was thought to be unique to land plants.  Now it has been found in red algae, reported Science Daily, with the title, “Billion-year Revision Of Plant Evolution Timeline May Stem From Discovery Of Lignin In Seaweed.”  This story illustrates that anything is possible in evolutionary biology these days.    According to evolutionists, red algae emerged much earlier than land plants.  How are they going to explain a complex molecule, which is manufactured by a complex process, being found in a more “primitive” life form?  “Because red and green algae likely diverged more than a billion years ago, the discovery of lignin in red algae suggests that the basic machinery for producing lignin may have existed long before algae moved to land.”  But that just seems to restate the problem.  The alternative, though, is even harder to swallow: “Alternatively, algae and land plants may have evolved the identical compound independently, after they diverged.”    The independent evolution of an identical compound in unrelated lines is tantamount to a miracle.  Look what Mark Denny of Stanford said about this: “The pathways, enzymes and genes that go into making this stuff are pretty complicated, so to come up with all those separately would be really, really amazing,”says Denny.  “Anything is possible, but that would be one hell of a coincidence.”Paper View: Denny’s statement warranted a further look at the original paper in Current Biology.1  Sure enough, the only two options were evolutionary, and neither was unproblematic.  “The discovery of polymerized hydroxycinnamyl alcohols (lignin) within the cell walls of a red alga has major evolutionary implications,” they said in a tone of understatement.  Either the ability to synthesize lignin emerged in a single-celled ancestor (with no need for the sturdiness of plant stems), or it emerged by convergent evolution in unrelated lineages.  “Because monolignol synthesis is exceptionally complex, it seems unlikely that Calliarthron [the red alga] and terrestrial plants evolved monolignol biosynthesis and polymerization completely independently,” they confessed (see 05/30/2008, bullet 2).  Why, then, did the title of their paper say this “reveals convergent evolution of cell-wall architecture”?  Perhaps there is a way to get the best of both explanations.  “It seems more likely that relevant pathways, such as phenylpropanoid biosynthesis and polymerization by peroxidase-catalyzed oxidation, may be deeply conserved, having evolved prior to the divergence of red and green algae more than 1 billion years ago.”  If so, “we may expect to find conserved enzymatic pathways and, potentially, evidence of lignification among the multitude of evolutionary intermediates.”  The search is on.    Nevertheless, they did entertain the possibility that red algae and land plants converged on the highly-complex lignin pathways independently.  For support, they pointed to one other case of convergent evolution in lignin synthesis: “For example, angiosperms and the lycopod Selaginella synthesize S lignin via distinct and independently evolved cytochrome-P450-dependent monooxygenases, and production of S lignin in Calliarthron may reflect a third convergent pathway.”  This seems to beg the question that they evolved.  Perhaps two improbabilities are better than one, and three better than two.  Since nothing but evolution is allowed in the explanation, though, those are the choices.  Maybe imagining other uses for lignin in microbes will help:Lignins are thought to have evolved in the green algal lineage as adaptations to terrestrial habitats, facilitating hydraulic transport and contributing to the mechanical stability of upright stems.  However, contrary to the current paradigm, our data indicate that H, G, and S lignins exist within a red alga’s calcified cells that lack hydraulic vasculature and have little need for additional support.  We speculate that lignin biosynthetic pathways may have functioned in the common unicellular ancestor of red and green algae, protecting cells from microbial infection or UV radiation, and in Calliarthron, lignins may orient the fibrillar scaffolding that guides CaCO3 deposition.While we’re speculating, let’s imagine more with the long leash of evolutionary thinking.  There may have been other needs within brainless microbes that provided opportunities for evolutionary invention via “selective pressure.”The presence of G lignin within the secondary walls of peripheral genicular cells may represent convergent evolution of cellular architecture in response to mechanical stress, given that G lignins also concentrate within secondary walls of terrestrial plant fibers.  Selective pressures in the marine environment differ from those on land, but the wind-induced drag forces that presumably contributed to the evolution of wood in terrestrial plants are mirrored by flow-induced drag forces on aquatic algae.  On land, xylem lends mechanical support to erect stems, and in water, genicula provide mechanical support to Calliarthron fronds.  As articulated fronds bend back and forth under breaking waves, bending stresses are amplified within peripheral genicular tissue, which develops thick secondary walls, apparently to resist breakage…. We hypothesize that this putative 3- to 5-fold upregulation of lignin biosynthesis in peripheral genicular cells may be mechanically stimulated by bending stresses imposed by breaking waves.  Similar mechanical on/off switches for lignin accumulation have been noted in terrestrial systems: plants grown in microgravity synthesize less lignin, whereas plants grown in hypergravity synthesize more lignin.  The mechanical consequences of such minute quantities of lignin on genicular material properties may be negligible.  Nevertheless, that genicular tissue contains lignin and is also stronger, stiffer, and yet more extensible than other algal tissues is an intriguing coincidence, and lignin’s potential role in these properties is an area of active research.Their reasoning leaves out a key question.  Their evidence refers only to spots where lignin accumulates in response to mechanical stress.  How did it get there in the first place?  What does accumulation have to do with the origin of the lignin synthesis machinery?  They didn’t say.  The argument merely hints that an applied stress will somehow produce the goods.  Necessity is the mother of invention.    Having earlier admitted that lignin synthesis is “exceptionally complex,” it is perhaps surprising to hear them land on the side of convergent evolution in their concluding paragraph.  Their last sentence included overt teleological language:Convergent evolution of cell structure and development in Calliarthron genicula and terrestrial xylem may clarify lignin biosynthesis and lend insight into the early evolution of land plants.  It is striking that Calliarthron contains lignified cell walls but evolved from calcified ancestors that lacked water-conducting tracheids or vessels.  Vascular plants may have realized hydraulic transport by tapping into ancient biosynthetic pathways that initially evolved to fortify unicellular walls and were later adapted to provide biomechanical support.With funding from the National Science Foundation, Patrick Martone (co-author with Denny) is continuing work on this surprising discovery.  Science Daily ended, “Martone says the research team has started looking for billion-year-old lignin genes that might be shared among land plants and red algae, and has started exploring whether lignin exists in other aquatic algae and what role it plays in the evolution and function of aquatic plants.”1.  Martone, Estevez, Lu, Ruel, Denny, Somerville and Ralph, “Discovery of Lignin in Seaweed Reveals Convergent Evolution of Cell-Wall Architecture,” Current Biology, Volume 19, Issue 2, 27 January 2009, Pages 169-175, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2008.12.031.Darwinism is supposed to be this law-governed, enlightened, mechanistic, scientific theory that gives rational explanations for observed phenomena in nature.  Pray tell, what is the difference between their evolutionary explanation and that of a shaman?  We have just seen these scientists invoke spirits.  They called on the spirit of convergent evolution, the spirit of Tinker Bell, and the spirit of vascular plants tapping into ancient biosynthetic pathways that “initially evolved to fortify” cell walls of microbes.  These purpose-driven spirits produced lignin biosynthesis machinery on demand, just because of environmental stress.  Miraculous (see 03/25/2003).  “Anything is possible,” Denny said.  At least Christians have a sufficient Cause when they say, “With God, all things are possible.”    When you learn to look past the big words and identify the key passages in a scientific paper, it’s like taking your gaze off the Wizard of Oz act and pulling up the curtain where the charlatan is hiding.  A theory that says “anything can happen,” even coincidences that are “really, really amazing” can explain anything.  Is this enlightened?  Is this progressive?  Is this rational?  No matter what the observations, the Darwin Party has carte blanche to say “It evolved, because stuff happens” (09/15/2008).  To get really disgusted, read how the Astrobiology Magazine spun this finding in to a positive for evolution!  “The team’s finding provides a new perspective on the early evolution of lignified support tissues – such as wood – on land, since the seaweed tissues that are most stressed by waves crashing on shore appear to contain the most lignin, possibly contributing to mechanical support, says Martone.”  This is why we really need to end the one-party rule in science.  The Darwinists have done nothing to stop the rampant, blatant, out-of-control identity theft (05/02/2003) and credit fraud (08/24/2007) that is damaging the public trust (12/18/2002).(Visited 371 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Free schooling for five million

first_imgThe department of education announced that the amount of no-fee schools and learners will more than double in 2007.Currently there are 7 800 no-fee schools in the country, but in 2007 the total of schools will be more than 13 000. This means more than 5 million learners from poor households will not have to pay school fees. (Image: Brand South Africa)Brand South Africa reporterOver five million children across South Africa will benefit from the country’s no-fee schools policy in 2007, the Department of Education said on Wednesday.In total, 5 001 874 learners from 13 856 schools across the country have been listed by the provincial departments as beneficiaries of the policy for the 2007 academic year.This follows Education Minister Naledi Pandor’s recent announcement in Parliament that 40% of the country’s learners would benefit from the policy next year.There are currently 7 800 no-fee schools in the country, benefiting approximately 2.5-million students.The government introduced the no-fee school policy to end the marginalisation of poor learners. This is in line with the country’s Constitution, which stipulates that citizens have the right to basic education regardless of the availability of resources.The policy was introduced early this year as part of the Education Amendment Act, signed into law by President Thabo Mbeki in January.The no-fee policy empowers the minister of education to exempt certain schools from charging fees, based on poverty levels of the area they serve. The government determines which schools qualify to be no-fee schools using data from the Poverty Index supplied by Statistics South Africa.Up to R530 per learner is allocated for each designated school.In addition to this, the department is developing a framework which will allow schools in more affluent areas to receive subsidies if they enrol non-fee learners.Schools are compelled to inform parents of the school fee exemption for poor learners.The province with the highest number of learners not paying fees next year is KwaZulu-Natal, which will have 1 173 503 beneficiaries enrolled at its 3 341 no-fee schools.The Northern Cape – the country’s least densely populated province – will have the lowest number of non-paying learners, with 102 244 children at its 335 no-fee schools.Source: South African Government News Agency.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

SA ‘encouraged’ by G20 growth plan

first_img7 November 2011 South Africa is encouraged by the Group of Twenty’s commitment to an action plan for growth and jobs, President Jacob Zuma said at the conclusion of the G20 summit in Cannes, France on Friday. “We are pleased with the commitment to an Action Plan for Growth and Jobs, which is an undertaking to renew efforts to combat unemployment and promote decent jobs, especially for the youth and others who have been most affected by the economic crisis,” Zuma said. According to the Presidency, the focus on job creation is in line with South Africa’s domestic focus on transforming the economy to promote inclusive growth and decent jobs. Zuma said the sovereign debt crises as well as credit rating downgrades of Eurozone economies had raised fears about a deepening financial crisis in the region. “We welcome the progress made by European leaders in their effort to resolve the current crisis. We urge them to continue to take decisive actions that will build confidence in the global economy.” The two-day summit, which ended on Friday, took place against the background of risks to the global economy, notably the risk posed by financial sector weakness. “We have also urged all G20 member countries to play their part to prevent the negative spill-over effect of the crisis on developing and low-income countries in line with the action plan,” Zuma said. South Africa was concerned that slow growth in the world economy was affecting Africa’s trade, growth and job creation prospects. South Africa’s real GDP growth was expected to remain below its pre-crisis 5% average at 3.5% over the next two years. South Africa also supported calls for ways to address loose monetary policies in advanced economies, while also strongly supporting the continued mainstreaming of development discourse in the G20, Zuma said. Over the course of the summit, South Africa participated and co-chaired the G20 Development Working Group alongside France and Korea. “While we participate in the G20 in a national capacity, we have always been mindful of the concerns of developing countries and the special challenges faced by Africa,” Zuma said. “The success of the development agenda of the G20 is crucial for the long-term credibility and legitimacy of the G20 for developing countries.” South Africa supported recommendations made by the High Level Panel on Infrastructure, premised on the understanding that facilitating increased private sector involvement was essential for enhancing infrastructure financing. Zuma said South Africa also supported the work of the Development Working Group on food security and building resilience in low-income countries, as this was critical in preventing cases of famine such as the one in Somalia. “We welcome chairing of the Development Working Group by Mexico in 2012 and the continued implementation of the Seoul Multi-Year Action Plan to support economic growth in developing countries.” BuaNewslast_img read more

Saving the world a drop at a time

first_imgConveniently packaged in single-use sachets, DryBath saves up to 80 litres of water per use.(Image: HeadBoy Industries) A jubilant Marishane accepts the award which confirms his status as one of the world’s top young entrepreneurs.(Image: Global Student Entrepreneur Awards) MEDIA CONTACTS • Ludwick Marishane  Founder, Headboy Industries RELATED ARTICLES • Meds on wheels for positive change • Meet a top social entrepreneur • Grooming future leaders: priceless • Young people: own your destiny! • Imbizo boost for entrepreneurs Bhekumuzi MdakaneImagine taking a bath anywhere at any time without using the traditional method of water. A young South African entrepreneur has developed a product that will allow people who have limited access to water to maintain their standards of hygiene.Ludwick Marishane hails originally from Motetema on the border of Limpopo and Mpumalanga, a town located not too far from the small Kwaggavoetpad Nature Reserve. He’s just completed his fourth year as a commerce student at the University of Cape Town.His product, called DryBath, is a clear germicidal and moisturising gel that’s applied to skin in the manner of waterless hand cleaners, although it has a sweet aroma rather than the distinctive alcohol smell of the latter.DryBath does the work of water and soap and it earned Marishane the 2011 Global Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award, with a US$10 000 (R86 000) prize to boot.The product has positive implications for millions of people in Africa and other parts of the developing world where lack of regular access to clean water leads to reduced basic hygiene and a lower quality of life. Children, for example, often have to walk for hours to fetch clean water, which detracts from the time they can spend at school, doing homework or just playing.To show solidarity for and raise awareness of the millions of affected people, Marishane is organising a no-bath weekend from 5 to 7 July, which will coincide with the fourth anniversary of the invention of DryBath. More details are available online.His main goal is to get 10-million people to hygienically skip a bath once a week during 2013, even if they don’t use DryBath, and save the precious resource of water.DryBath is manufactured by Western Cape-based gel cosmetic specialists BioEarth Labs for HeadBoy Industries, the company started by Marishane to develop and market the product. Laziness leads to inspirationMarishane grew up in rural Limpopo, where as a 17-year-old he was chatting one day with a close friends, discussing typical teenage topics and sunbathing in the winter sun.Full of imagination, the friend asked: “Why can’t they invent something that you can just apply to your skin so that you don’t have to take a bath nor shower?”Marishane felt the same way, and that planted the seed that would germinate into DryBath.“I came up with this idea all because I didn’t feel like taking a bath!” he joked.Although he only had high school science knowledge, Marishane got onto the internet via his mobile phone and researched statistics on water access, as well as the composition and manufacture of lotions and creams. He finally came up with a formula. Some months later and after much experimentation, he held a bottle of DryBath in his hand and went on to obtain a patent through his company.One 20ml DryBath sachet can do the work of one bath, and Marishane claims it saves about 80 litres of water on average with every use.Access to water is crucialDuring his research he found out that over 2.5-billion people in the world live without access to clean water – 450-millon of them are in Africa and five-million live in South Africa.Continued research revealed that sanitation-related diseases are often found within these poor areas and the lack of water is one of the main causes of the infections.Saving water is a job that everyone needs to focus on. But there are many areas around the world that have no access to safe water, or water at all, and people often have to walk long distances to get fresh water.Living without water can also lead to death, as waterborne diseases such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid and schistosomiasis are found in areas that lack clean water. Trachoma, a disease caused by dirt getting into the eye through agents such as flies or towels, affects 350-million people and leaves eight-million of them permanently blind through recurring infection.According to Water.org, nearly 10% of the global disease burden could be reduced through improved water supply, sanitation, hygiene, and water resource management. Getting the product out thereMarishane first approached charity organizations for support, but says he was turned back because of his age and because of doubt that his concept would ever work.Back at the drawing board, he put together a lengthy and detailed proposal – all done on his trusty Nokia.With paper in hand he approached the corporate world in search for sponsors, endorsements and investors. At the moment he has struck up partnerships with WaterAid and Oxfam.DryBath is now manufactured commercially for clients such as hotels, music festival organisers, major global airlines – one of which is British Airways – and governments for soldiers in the field. It’s not yet available for consumer use but Marishane says it will soon be sold online.last_img read more

A level playing field

first_imgThis fusion has allowed Amandla EduFootball to develop a healthy attitude towards education in the children taking part in its programmes, using their love of sport as incentive. (Image: Amandla EduFootball, via Facebook)As the name suggests, Amandla EduFootball capitalises on the widespread love of the beautiful game to get children to engage with education by fusing the two, creating a single vehicle to uplift and empower the country’s youth.This fusion has allowed Amandla EduFootball to develop a healthy attitude towards education in the children taking part in its programmes, using their love of sport as incentive.Florian Zech and Leonora Reid, who were working at a children’s home in Cape Town before founding Amandla, came to realise the need to give children in residential care the opportunity to take part in sports and life skills building activities during their down time.The idea of creating an “education through sport” programme seemed to be an ideal way of engaging and stimulating pupils after school while also drawing their attention away from negative influences such as substance abuse and violence.Today more than 3 000 children take part in the organisation’s activities every week – and this number is growing steadily. This continued growth shows the relevance and impact of sports in education and the development of young minds.Amandla’s focus on fair play aims to encourage children to develop their team work skills, their attitude towards other children as well as their ability to deal with conflict. (Image:Amandla EduFootbal, via Facebook)TUTORING PROGRAMME AND FAIRPLAYBy combining daily homework sessions with football, Amandla EduFootball’s tutoring programme helps learners to improve their academic performance. It also gives them ongoing support.These sessions help to get the children past areas where they may be struggling at school and help them to improve their performances all round, giving them a strong foundation to build on later on in their school careers.EduFootball also runs football leagues among the children taking part in its programmes. The points tallies in the league combine the scores of each of the matches with fair play points given to team members.These fair play points serve as indicators to track the improvement in behaviour among team members and the opposition and encourage them to develop their team work skills, their attitude towards other children as well as their ability to deal with conflict.GET INVOLVED IN EDUFOOTBALL“Our experience and research tells us that we cannot achieve a sustainable impact in marginalised communities without in-depth collaboration,” Zech explains, touching on the importance of getting support from the public and corporations for non-profit organisations such as Amandla EduFootball to succeed.“The ability to bring together partners from all sectors allows us to create lasting change among our youth and communities.”If you want to help improve the lives of the many children benefiting from the efforts of Amandla EduFootball, visit its website for details about how to get involved.The organisation welcomes volunteers who want to work directly with the children during the day to day activities at their facilities. If you would prefer to donate to the cause, visit the donate page for information on how to do so.For more information, contact Amandla EduFootball on 021 447 8261 or via email at info@edufootball.org.PLAY YOUR PARTPlay Your Part urges you to share your story. If you or anyone you know has gone out of their way to brighten up the day for someone else, we want to know.If you have a story to tell, be it your own or that of an organisation or initiative dear to you, submit your story or video to our website and tell us how South Africa is playing a part to build a better life for all.last_img read more

Rural Maharastra can drink without hassle

first_imgThe new year has brought some good news to alcohol consumers and sellers in rural Maharashtra, as the State government has decided to allow liquor shops under gram panchayats to renew licences, a procedure that was on hold since April 2017. As per a government circular issued on January 1 and a letter sent by the State Excise Commissioner to all district collectors, except for the dry districts of Wardha, Chandrapur and Gadchiroli, the licences can be renewed in any gram panchayat which fulfils at least one of two criteria. The first is that the population under the gram panchayat should be at least 3,000 as per the 2011 census. Alternatively, the area should be located within 3 km of the limits of a municipal corporation or within a kilometre of a municipal council or municipal panchayat. According to a government official, the decision will benefit 1,500 permit rooms, and 400 country liquor and 700 beer shops. As per a Supreme Court decision of December 2016, wine shops and permit rooms within 500 m of highways were stopped from selling alcohol. Later, the move was amended to exclude highways within city limits.“A number of licence holders who still could not get their permits renewed had approached the Bombay High Court through writ petitions. In May 2018, the court directed the State government to hold hearings of these cases. Following the hearing, the government has decided to allow renewal of licences,” an official from the Excise Department said.last_img read more