Excerpt: “Homosporous ferns have evolved a mechanism to favor cross-fertilization by controlling the sex ratio among individuals or prothalli within the population with the aid of antheridiogens. Antheridiogens are pheromones…”
Excerpt: “The intercommunication abilities demonstrated by the ferns is an example of a growing field in botany that some have taken to calling plant neurobiology—when plants exhibit behavior that resembles activities of animals.”
My comment to Science Magazine
Biologically-based cause and effect in these ferns appears to parallel what is known about biophysically-constrained thermodynamic cycles of nutrient-dependent protein biosynthesis and degradation in other genera, which is controlled by the metabolism of nutrients to species-specific pheromones.
From an atoms to ecosystems perspective this links nutrient uptake to RNA-directed DNA methylation; RNA-mediated amino acid substitutions; and to pheromone-controlled chromosomal rearrangements associated with ecological speciation but not necessarily associated with mutations, natural selection, and the evolution of biodiversity.
Have homosporous ferns somehow evolved a mechanism that appears to link the epigenetic landscape to the physical landscape of DNA in the organized genomes of species from microbes to man? To me it seems more likely that ecological variation led to RNA-mediated ecological adaptations like those that are manifested in the morphological and behavioral phenotypes of other living organisms with cell types that are differentiated by amino acid substitutions.
For examples, see: Signaling Crosstalk: Integrating Nutrient Availability and Sex “The mechanism by which one signaling pathway regulates a second provides insight into how cells integrate multiple stimuli to produce a coordinated response.”
See also: Feedback loops link odor and pheromone signaling with reproduction “Indications that GnRH peptide plays an important role in the control of sexual behaviors suggest that pheromone effects on these behaviors might also involve GnRH neurons.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16290036
The link from microbes (yeasts) to mammals seems to be nutrient-dependent amino acid substitutions, like those Dobzhansky (1973) reported in Nothing in Biology Makes Any Sense Except in the Light of Evolution “…the so-called alpha chains of hemoglobin have identical sequences of amino acids in man and the chimpanzee, but they differ in a single amino acid (out of 141) in the gorilla.” https://www.jstor.org/stable/4444260
If what others are reporting in the context of mutations in the Ebola viruses are ecological adaptations, our response to the threat may need to be reconsidered in the context of reports like this one: Identification of two amino acid residues on Ebola virus glycoprotein 1 critical for cell entry. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168170206001882
My comment to the phys.org site:
“…plants exhibit behavior that resembles activities of animals.”
That suggests conserved molecular mechanisms of the nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled physiology of reproduction extend across all genera, as does everything else currently known about the physics, chemistry, and molecular
If ferns somehow evolved that level of organism-level complexity, their evolution would seem like a miracle that could be compared to their ability to ecologically adapt.