Socraticgadfly's Reviews > The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life

The Vital Question by Nick Lane
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it was amazing
bookshelves: science

I learned a lot from this book, and unlearned some old things about biology and biochemistry. Here's some notes I took about the book, to save on my computer:

0s Nick Lane: The Vital Question


1. Endosymbiosis was a one-off between an archaeon body and a bacterium that became mitochondrium. Golgi bodies may or may not have invaded later; other “subbodies” were likely produced by internal action, tho Lane doesn’t specify.
2. Archaea and bacteria didn’t diversify at black smoker vents on seafloor ridges, but rather at warm, yet cooler, and gentler-venting alkali vents about 10-30 miles away, which, with multiple holes, provided a “membrane” for proton pumping along with alkali gradient vs. acidic seawater for reduction potential gradients for CO2 to reduce to formic, then to methanol, but stopping before methane, which isn’t desired
3. It made evolutionary sense for nucleus to uptake most mitochondrial genes
4. Multicellular eukaryotes can either tolerate high levels of mitochondria vs nuclear gene defect rates and more adaptability, in exchange for short lives, (rats) or low tolerance and low birth rates, and low adaptability, in exchange for maintaining a high evolved fitness (birds, esp, which need high-performance mitochondria)
5. High mitochondrial defect rates affect neurons and muscles above all, hence human neuromuscular disease, and per germ cells, hence their hitting men more. Muscles and nerves have the highest metabolic rate, and we can’t replace out nerve cells, overall, in developed adults
6. A modified version of the old “free radical theory” might be true … while rejecting the idea that antioxidants can help (they can actually hurt, and not testing in body, rather than in lab, is how the original theory went wrong)
7. Cellular free-radical links aren’t bad, they’re signals
8. Mito-nuclear variants that affect ATP efficiency are linked to apoptosis, and seem to serve to signal it; apoptosis probably evolved early
9. Mito defects are probably related to many early-pregnancy spontaneous abortions. (He says that 40 percent of all ends this way, even higher than Ayala’s guess)
10. Per reptiles and SRY defect in mammals, he thinks temperature of development is key for sex differentiation, to the point he thinks that if what’s left of the Y chromosome finishes disintegration, mammals would find another temp-based way to distinguish sexes
11. Re SETI, he says that the chemiosmotic nature of life on earth will probably be found elsewhere if we find life elsewhere
12. “Energy is less forgiving than genes”

Throughout, he specifies when he is being speculative. Within that, he notes what speculative items are testable. He then subnotes which of these he or his students are already testing, or others he knows of are already testing.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
October 11, 2015 – Shelved
October 11, 2015 – Shelved as: science
October 11, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Andrew Thank you for this review. Helps me understand the text better!


Phan Anh Tuan thank you for such insightful comment :)


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