Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Acquiring Genomes: A Theory Of The Origin Of Species Paperback – International Edition, June 17, 2003
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
A challenger of the orthodox "neo-Darwinist" interpretation of evolution, microbiologist Margulis has made her professional mark touting an alternative: symbiogenesis. She and coauthor (and son) Sagan have presented their ideas in earlier popular works (What Is Life?, 1995), but never as vigorously as in this volume. Essentially, the debate between neo-Darwinists and Margulis hinges on the definition of a species, and the manner in which a new one appears. To Margulis and Sagan, the neo-Darwinist model, which asserts random gene mutation as the source of inherited variations, is "wildly overemphasized," and to support their view, they delve deeply into the world of microbes. They detail the anatomy of cells with and without nuclei, positing a process of genome ingestion that creates a new species. Surprisingly, the upshot of Margulis' theories is the rehabilitation of Jean Baptiste de Lamarck, whose theory that supposedly acquired traits are hereditary has been ridiculed for 150 years. Polemical and provocative, Margulis and Sagan's work should set many to thinking that evolution has not yet been completely figured out. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"One of the most stimulating and provocative books that I have read for a long while."
Top customer reviews
Perhaps the most notable features of “Acquiring Genomes” is the rather dominate tone the authors use to challenge the basic and over simplified concepts of evolutions. For example, the word “species” is mainly used to describe morphological differences, but the problem arises when two similar animals, like coyotes and dogs, mate and do not produce fully fertile offspring. Therefore organisms that can interbreed belong in the same species, but this only applied to zoologist and botanist. The authors do state that this definition should actually be renamed “zoological-botanical concepts of species”.
The authors passionately go on about evolution and how everyone who studies biology is a Darwinist. They do sat that there is a difference between neodarwinism and Darwinist, such as natural selection. Natural selection is a way to express the concept that most life does not persist through time, the authors state that is essentially “differential survival”. This differential survival lead into inherited variation can help the organisms, which Darwin wrote that “only variation that is inherited is important for “decent with modification”’.
The reason that the definition of species only works for plants and animals is because they are embryo forming, which need fusion of an egg with sperm. Professional evolutionary theorist tend to have ignored microbiology, paleontology and symbiosis even though life originated with bacteria. Bacteria exchange genetic material with multiple recipients. Bacteria can even uptake DNA material from the surroundings. Individuality doesn’t come exclusively from diversification and branching like neodarwinist believe but also comes from integration and differentiation, such as species by symbiogenisis. According to the authors it is the creative force of symbiosis that produced eukaryotic cells from bacteria.
An example of eukaryotic and prokaryotic symbiosis is V. fischeri and the Hawaiian bobtail squid. These squid hatch from their eggs without the bacteria, but soon the bacterial inhabit the squid’s underdeveloped light organ through occupying crypts. With the bacteria, the light organ develop and allow the symbiosis to commence. Within 4 days, a death signal kills epithelial cells of the ciliated surface and the welcome organ is gone. Bacterial genes that code for “adhesion” promotes the light organs maintenance. The bacteria gets food and protection while the squid gets camouflage through the bioluminescent of the bacteria which generates the same color, intensity and angular distribution as moonlight. The bioluminescence the bacteria emits allows the Hawaiian bobtail squid to blend in the ocean at night avoided predators.
This book wasn’t an easy read because of the complicated concepts of biology and evolution, which I would recommend to a reader who is familiar with the subject. This book did do a good job on laying out the purpose of pushing the limits of evolution, but is was confusing as some part of the book seemed to have come from nowhere, such as the explanation on chromosomes. The book lacks the ability of continuity and transitioning from subject to subject smoothly, regardless it does try to display the information as easy as it an by being broad about evolution and speciation in the beginning.
It was refreshing to read the immense passion the authors had on the subject of evolution as their bias for certain words were apparent. The authors talk about “competition” and its misuse in evolution. According to them, competition has no place in describing evolution because competition implies a mutual understanding of a winner and loose. The author fails to acknowledge that when first teaching evolution, simple term are used to help learner understand the concept of evolution. In the wild, the winner is the organism that survives and the loser is the one that dies. Over all, this book pushed readers to think beyond the accepted thinking for evolution and truly question the evolutionary theory.
Prof. Margulis' book also assumes a reader with a broad scientific background , largely in areas considered "old fashioned" in the 21st century. She demands an upper college level familiarity with invertebrate biology, physiology, microbiology, ultrastructure, biophysical chemistry, metabolic pathways and *GASP* thermodynamics. Then she integrates molecular biology and genomics, as needed, into the picture, to make a very convincing case for symbiogenesis. She also evokes wrath for bringing up the name of Jean Baptiste Lamarck, which is sure to raise a red flag in neodarwinist circles. Last, she does not refute the contribution of neodarwinists, she simply tries to put them in perspective.
The founding premise is that mutations constantly occur during the natural history of a species. Many experiments suggest 99% of these mutations are either silent or deleterious. Therefore, they probably cannot be counted on to drive evolution to improve on a species, let alone create new ones. Instead, a more likely pathway is for two species, with one bacterial, one eucaryotic, to coexist if it causes them to have a survival advantage when they do so. If it is in both organisms' best interest, this coexistance becomes more intimate, and can lead to the eucaryotic organism taking the smaller genome into its chromosome and making one very new and improved species. This, and many intermediate stages, are seen among invertebrates, such as Geosiphon pyriforme, a hybrid organism with a fungal (Endogone) and a cyanobacter (Nostoc) ancestor. The Geosiphon has retained the ability to fix carbon dioxide and nitrogen, receiving one multigene trait from one ancestor and the other from the partner species. Examples like this are why a reader needs a strong invertebrate biology background in order to appreciate these chimera.
She ends the discussion with another tantalizing mechanism, called the kinetichore reproduction theory. In this process, environmental stress can lead to an additional round of kinetichore - centromere reproduction in an organism's chromosomes which leads to twice as many half-sized acrocentric chromosomes. Fertilization where one donor has undergone this alteration still leads to diploid progeny, but the diversity generated is the engine for adaptive radiation of species.
Obviously, I am not ashamed to say I have bought into her arguments. If I were an academic scientist, I could have a field day testing some of her hypotheses. Instead, I am an industrial biochemist without the necessary time or manpower. That is the power of this book, however. It moves the receptive reader to want to take the bull by the horns and challenge or expand Margulis' hypotheses. She even suggests research strategies for potentially fruitful lines of inquiry.
Drs Margulis and Sagan have written a lightning-rod kind of book that will attract wrath from some, and heartfelt praise from others. If you feel indifferent toward this book, I suggest you reread it with a copy of an invertebrate biology reference book at your side.
However, the argument against Neodarwinism's view of natural selection based on basic gene mutation ever being sufficient to create new species is not as well presented. Nor do they present sufficient examples of or explanations how this process works in higher order taxa, such as reptiles, birds, and mammals.
I think overall, the argument present falls prey to the problem of looking for a single answer to a complex history. I think there is little doubt that there has probably been a significant amount of speciation that has occurred through the blending of genomes; but I think it unlikely that it has been the only mechanism of speciation.