An important statistic about DNA mutations jumped out at me recently. The statistic is how fast mutations occur in human DNA transmitted to the next generation. Of the many, many mutations that occur each year in every cell, only about seven changes per year persist in the DNA and are not corrected by the enzymes that maintain the integrity of the code of life. That is just seven out of about three billion DNA code letters that is contained in the nucleus of each of our trillions of cells.[i]
Seven DNA letters are equivalent to 14 binary bits of information, less than two bytes. The first thing that occurs to me is that those binary bits are extremely information rich. Each bit must represent something important in order to be significant. If you believe in accumulated pseudo-random evolutionary DNA changes as a model for life, and you believe that most mutations end up being non-beneficial mutations (eliminated by natural selection), then the number of useful mutation bits per year or even per decade might be much, much lower than 14 bits per year.
The average person today is much better informed in some of the ideas of information density than ever existed previously in our society. The concept of mp3, jpeg and zip compression are somewhat understood by a wide variety of people. These algorithms, particularly with graphics and audio files, can enable tremendous compression ratios that allow files to take up less space on a computer disk or solid state drive. Sometimes a single bit in a compressed file can represent thousands of bits in an uncompressed file. Somewhere in the algorithm program, that bit or few bits will be processed to execute complex interpretation routines. Thus, we would call that a very information rich bit.
The characteristic of an attached or free ear lobe could be represented by a single DNA letter combination. However, it would take many complex programming bits and bytes to interpret that attribute setting into the physical manifestation processing of this feature into the shape of a person’s ear. In real life for this example, there are many more differences between the two settings than one DNA letter.
Source of Directed Mutations?
I believe that the glacially slow human mutation rate implies the need for a revised evolutionary theory model that includes directed mutations, which researchers can demonstrate in repeatable laboratory experiments.[v] I believe that the mutation component of the theory of evolution is missing essential spiritual and intelligence based modules that may be the cause of these directed mutations. The roles of the light of Christ, spirit and intelligence are described in the scriptures as being essential to the existence and ongoing functions of life. These scriptures are especially plain and descriptive in modern revelations given through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
“For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth.” (Moses 3:5)
“the body without the spirit is dead ” (James 2:26)
“The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things”(D&C 88:13)
“All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.” (D&C 93:30)
“All things … witness that there is a Supreme Creator “(Alma 30:44)
[i] Kumar S, Subramanian S., “Mutation rates in mammalian genomes,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA, 2002 Jan 22;99(2):803-8. Retrieved August 1, 2012.
“Knowledge of the rate of point mutation is of fundamental importance, because mutations are a vital source of genetic novelty and a significant cause of human diseases. Currently, mutation rate is thought to vary many fold among genes within a genome and among lineages in mammals. We have conducted a computational analysis of 5,669 genes (17,208 sequences) from species representing major groups of placental mammals to characterize the extent of mutation rate differences among genes in a genome and among diverse mammalian lineages. We find that mutation rate is approximately constant per year and largely similar among genes. Similarity of mutation rates among lineages with vastly different generation lengths and physiological attributes points to a much greater contribution of replication-independent mutational processes to the overall mutation rate. Our results suggest that the average mammalian genome mutation rate is 2.2 x 10(-9) per base pair per year, which provides further opportunities for estimating species and population divergence times by using molecular clocks.” [emphasis added]
RPM Note: Considering the complexity of human DNA, this is a low rate of mutations, just a handful ((3 x 10(+9)) x (2.2 x 10(-9)) = 6.6) of DNA changes per year in the three billion bases of our genetic code.
[ii] “Evolution via Natural Selection: How It Works,” Science Prof Online, retrieved 9/8/2012, .
Evolution: In biology, evolution can be defined as inheritable change in a population that ultimately results from the interaction of individuals with their environment. And evolution, over very large stretches of time, explains the origin of new species, occasionally the elimination of existing species and ultimately the vast diversity of the biological world. Today’s species are related to each other through common decent (ancestors that they share) and are products of evolution over billions of years.
Natural Selection: Natural selection is the mechanism of evolution, the process in nature by which the organisms that are best adapted to their environment survive and transmit their genetic characteristics to the next generation in larger numbers. Individuals less well adapted to their environment tend to be eliminated, where environment represents the combined biological and physical influences.
[iii] “Galactic cluster and giant arc,” NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory HST photojournal, retrieved 9/8/2012.
[iv] “<a target="_self" href="%20http:/dailyapple.
blogspot.com/2010/11/apple-492-earlobes.html”>The Daily Apple,” November 8, 2010, Apple #492: Earlobes, retrieved 9/8/2012,
“You probably also remember from your science classes that the attached vs. detached earlobe is a genetic trait. The detached earlobe (in the photo above, A) is the dominant trait, while attached (B) is recessive.”
[v] “New Evidence Casts Doubt on Classical Evolutionary Theory,” Rodchester University Press Release, June 18, 1990.
“‘Some mutations happen more often when they are useful than when they are neutral,” says Hall. “I can demonstrate this every day in my laboratory, and there is every reason to believe that it occurs in nature as well.’
“Hall’s findings run counter to conventional scientific belief, which holds that mutations (changes in an organism’s genetic code) occur at an even and continuous pace, and that they occur regardless of the environment. Generations of scientists since Charles Darwin have believed that mutations which make the organism more productive or successful are “selected” and are subsequently passed on more often to succeeding generations, but that the process of generating the mutations is completely separate from the process of selection. Hall’s findings suggest a much more intimate relationship between mutation and selection, a relationship in which selective conditions may dramatically affect mutation itself. …
“In his paper Hall proposes an explanation for Cairnsian mutations [another name for directed mutations] that involves an underlying random mechanism that may make some genes much more prone to mutations during times of stress.
“In 1988 Hall showed that a mutation which allowed the bacterium E. coli to use the sugar salicin was the result of spontaneous excision of a mobile genetic element, or “jumping gene,” from within the gene for salicin utilization. That mutation was undetectable, occurring in fewer than 2 in a trillion cells, when E. coli was growing normally, but it occurred in about 1 in an hundred cells when E. coli colonies were stressed by prolonged incubation on medium containing salicin in addition to other resources. The surprising observation was that the mutation occurred only when it was useful, when salicin was present, but did not occur under identical conditions when salicin was absent from the medium. [emphasis added]
“In his recent experiments Hall examined a kind of mutation that is often thought to be more important in evolutionary processes — a mutation in which one of the bases of the DNA is changed to another base. Using strains of E. coli that normally do not produce the amino acid tryptophan, but which require it for growth, Hall deprived the bacterial colony of tryptophan for long periods of time. The result was that the deprived colonies began producing mutant strains capable of synthesizing their own tryptophan at a rate far in excess of the normal rate. His key observation was that the only mutations which increased at the accelerated pace were those related to synthesizing tryptophan — there was no increase in the production of mutations in other genes. ‘It is the specificity of the process that is so surprising,’ says Hall. ‘Mutations only seem to occur at a place in the DNA where they are beneficial.'”