biofilm adn Darwin's theory

Doug Caldwell caldwell at SASK.USASK.CA
Thu Jan 23 13:42:43 EST 1997

Dear Dr. Sadovsky,

This is in response to your comment below warning that questioning the
theory of natural selection may result in a return to communist
dictatorships.  I do not think that such fears should be ignored, but they
should be overcome if we are to move forward.

Neither communism nor Darwinism are very effective as organizational
theories. They both tend to constrain self-organization to a single level
of biological organization (individuals in one case and communities in the
other).  My own view is that proliferation strategies arise simultaneously
at all levels of biological organization.

Fortunately, as microbiologists interested in the organization of biofilms,
we can test our concepts of bacterial self-organization by performing
analytical experiments.  We can then select the best concepts of
self-organization based on their simplicity and generality (these are
accepted principles of logic begun by Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato
continued to the present day by Popper - who cites Marxism as a good
example of pseudoscience rather than science).  That's the function of
scientific thought - using logic to see through the fog of fear and emotion
to understand the world around us more objectively.

I agree with you that whether microbial ecologists realize it or not, by
studying the self-organization (evolution) of biofilms (groups of
individuals) they are engaged in what many outside the field (selection
theorists - Darwinists) will consider to be dangerous misconceptions.  We
should still proceed - but cautiously.

p.s.  I voted for Ronald Reagan.

Sincerely Doug Caldwell

>Dirk Schmid wrote:
>> Come to think of it, Darwin's principle of natural selection appears to be
>> flawed. Natural selection can not account for the evolution of microbial
>> communities, and it can not account for the close association of
>> microorganisms within a microbial community.
>Darwin's principle works excellently in the biofilm communities. We
>dealt a lot with the biofilms for ten(or even more) years. In brief -
>two strtategies of the selection could be observed:
>	1) parity (quite rare), in continuous culture with prey-predator
>	2) non-parity (altruistic): just in biofilms. This strategy force the
>cells to rearrange the substrate flux (or some other resource) in order
>to provide a group of cells (which are closely related among themselves
>through the genetic relationship) instead of equal sharing of that
>substrate among the entity.
>> If there is such a close association within a biofilm or community, then
>> competition simply can not exist.
>See above...
>> Well, that sure throws Darwin out the window, doesn't it?
>This remark reminds me a historical period, not so far back, of my own
>country. Communists also wanted to through out the window such things as
>Pushkin's poetry, classic music (including Tchaikovsky, etc.). These
>were the communists of 1920 - 1926. The result is well known...
>> ______________________________
>> Dirk Schmid
>> dfs846 at mail.usask.ca
>> University of Saskatchewan
>> Canada
>Regards, Michael G.Sadovsky,
>Institute of Biophysics of SD of RAS;
>660036 Russia, Siberia, Krasnoyarsk
>tel. +7-(3912)-494101; fax: +7-(3912)-433400
>	e-mail: bugar at post.krascience.rssi.ru

Doug Caldwell
Microbial Colonization Laboratory
Department of Applied Microbiology and Food Science
51 Campus Drive, University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7N 5A8, Canada
Voice: (306) 966-5026 (office), -5042 (colonization lab), -7704 (laser
imaging facility), 934-0711 (home)
Fax:  966-8898
Email:  caldwell at sask.usask.ca
WebSite:  http://zebra.usask.ca

Life is the process by which wisdom arises spontaneously, transcends any
specific individual or group of individuals, and resides within and among
all living things. - Doug Caldwell - Email signature - Nov. 6, 1996 - for
further information see:

Caldwell, D. E. and J. W. Costerton, 1996. Are bacterial biofilms
constrained to Darwin's concept of evolution through natural selection?
Microbiologia SEM 12:347-358.

Caldwell, D. E. R. M. Wolfaardt, D. R. Korber, and J. R. Lawrence. 1996.
Do bacterial communities transcend Darwinism?  In Advances in Microbial
Ecology.  Edited by: J. Gwynfryn Jones.  Published by Plenum Press. New
York.   In Press.

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