Mutational Research

FRUIT FLIES TO THE RESCUE—(*#4/12 Fruit Flies Speak Up*) In 1904, *Walter S. Sutton, an American cytol-ogist, decided there might be some connection between Gregor Mendel's 1860s research and the newly discovered chromosomes with their genes. A major breakthrough came in 1906, when *Thomas Hunt Morgan, a Columbia University zoologist, conceived the idea of using fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) for genetic research. This was due to the fact that they breed so very rapidly, require little food, have scores of easily observed characteristics, and only a few chromosomes per cell.

"The fly could be bred by the thousands in milk bottles. It cost nothing but a few bananas to feed all the experimental animals; their entire life cycle lasts a short time and they have only four chromosomes."—*R. Milner, Encyclopedia of Evolution (1990), p. 169.

Later still, fruit flies began to be used in mutational research. What that research revealed—settled the question for all time as to whether evolution could successfully result from mutations. And those little creatures should be able to settle the matter, for it takes only 12 days for a fruit fly to reach maturity; after that it steadily reproduces young. Each of its offspring matures in 12 days, and the generations multiply rapidly. What it would take mammals tens of thousands of years to accomplish, the humble fruit flies can do within a very short time.

We have heard about "the stones crying out" (Luke 19:40). The fossil rocks surely are. Well, the little fruit flies had a testimony to give also.

HISTORY OF RESEARCH—Because the mainstay of evolutionary theory is mutations, it would be well if we gave a little space to a brief review of research on mutations. This will show how thoroughly this matter has been investigated. A number of individuals have dedicated their lifetime to an analysis of mutations.

Mutations were first studied by *Hugo deVries, *T.H. Morgan, * Calvin Bridges, and *A.H. Sturtevant. Above the microscopic level, fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) reproduce faster than any other creature that is large enough to be effectively worked with and observed. These men spent years patiently collecting information on naturally occurring mutations in fruit flies. They studied eye color, wing form, eye structure, bristle arrangement, and many other features of this small fly.

Careful breeding experiments produced information on each of the four chromosomes, in the fruit fly, and the genes within each one. The mutant genes were carefully located; and, inside each mutant chromosome, their exact positions were determined. Fairly precise "chromosome maps" were made. Similar maps were made of corn, tomatoes, flour beetles, and several grains.

"The fruit fly has long been the favorite object of mutation experiments because of its fast gestation period (twelve days). X-rays have been used to increase the mutation rate in the fruit fly by 15,000 percent. All in all, scientists have been able to "catalyze the fruit fly evolutionary process such that what has been seen to occur in Drosophila is the equivalent of many millions of years of normal mutations and evolution."—*Jeremy Rifkin, Algeny (1983), p. 134.

After decades of study, without immediately killing or sterilizing them, 400 different mutational features have been identified in fruit flies. But none changes the fruit fly into a different species.

"Out of 400 mutations that have been provided by Drosophila melanogaster, there is not one that can be called a new species. It does not seem, therefore, that the central problem of evolution can be solved by muta-tions."—*Maurice Caulery, Genetics and Heredity (1964), p. 119.

The final word: A thousand known fruit-fly mutations placed in one individual—would still not produce a new species!

"In the best-known organisms, like Drosophila, innumerable mutants are known. If we were able to combine a thousand or more of such mutants in a single individual, this still would have no resemblance whatsoever to any type known as a [new] species in nature."—*Richard B. Goldschmidt, "Evolution, As Viewed by One Geneticist," American Scientist, January 1952, p. 94.

The obstinate, stubborn little creatures!

"Fruit flies refuse to become anything but fruit flies under any circumstances yet devised."— *Francis Hitching, The Neck of the Giraffe: Where Darwin Went Wrong (1982), p. 61.

X-RAYS ENTER—A major breakthrough came in 1928 when *H.J. Muller discovered that X-rays could speed up mutations. Now a way was available by which the researchers could increase the mutations on a million-fold faster basis. Irradiation of the little fruit flies in their glass jars enabled the scientists to calculate the rate at which mutations were beneficial, neutral, or harmful.

"Radiation is in fact the only type of agent yet known to which human beings are likely to be exposed in quantity sufficient to cause any considerable production of mutations in them."—*George W. Beadle, "Ionizing Radiation and the Citizen, " Scientific American, September 1959, p. 224.

Ignoring the fact that in nature mutations occur only very rarely, it was now hoped that by speeding up the frequency of mutations, an invaluable collection of statistical evidence could be compiled—evidence that, it was hoped, would prove that mutations could indeed produce all the complicated traits in the entire plant and animal kingdoms. But all that the accelerated research revealed—was the total harmfulness of the mutations. They always injure; they never help.

"There is a reason to believe, however, that exposure to high energy irradiation of any kind, and at any dosage level, is potentially harmful. Mutations are generally proportional to the dosage and the effect is cu-mulative."—*E. J. Gardner, Principles of Genetics (1964), p. 192.

X-RAYED PLANTS—Then the scientists turned their X-rays on plant genes. They were very surprised at what they discovered! Mutations are NOT the source of nearly all varieties of flowers! Instead, they were caused by genetic factors unrelated to mutations. This was another crushing blow to the evolutionists.

Flower and plant varieties are often very positive and quite beneficial, and it was hoped that they were caused by mutations. But this was not the case. In fact, it was found that X-rays were generally not very effective in inducing variations in plants.

(Even if mutations had been the cause of the many varieties of flowers, for example, those varieties would still involve only changes within kinds and not across kinds.)

As with animal life, so with plants; it was found that most mutations resulted in harmful effects and semi-sterile life-forms. Many of the plant mutations involved splitting and re-attaching chromosomes, and most were found to be lethal.

NATURAL CONDITIONS—Next, population geneticists studied the actual way mutations occurred under natu ral field conditions. Simultaneously, other studies were made of radiation-caused mutations by gamma rays, neutron rays, and various mutagenic chemicals. Large numbers of expensive research projects were funded.

A breakthrough, in causing a dramatic increase in mutated plants, came with the discovery that irradiated "budding eyes" of roses would dramatically increase mutational production in roses. Now much faster, more thorough work on plant mutations could be obtained.

Of the few mutation-induced changes considered "useful" (change in petal number, loss of color, etc.), all of the plants having them were weaker than their unirradiated parents. In the end, all of the useful ones failed commercially since they were not vigorous enough under varying garden conditions. In every instance, even the best of the mutated plant forms were significantly weaker, or had a reduced fertility. The only exceptions were those few that could be given special care throughout their lifetime, such as certain sheltered, in-house ornamental plants.

It became obvious that induced-mutation plant varieties were not able to demonstrate evolution in action, or even in possibility.

THE BAND STUDIES—Still another setback came with the release of the *H.T. Band conclusions in the early 1960s. Band did studies from 1947 to 1962 among naturally occurring fruit flies living outside of laboratories.

One important discovery that she made was that normal natural selection was not eliminating genetic load, or the gradually increasing negative effect of even the slightest mutations. Natural selection did not, as hopefully predicted by neo-Darwinian theory, weed out the cumulative bad effects of mutations. This meant that, if it were possible for a species to evolve by natural selection alone—or by natural selection plus mutations,—the genetic load of harmful mutations would eventually become so high in a few hundred generations, as to result in all offspring having defects.

But the fact that this is not happening among plants, animals, and man—argues for a special creation of the species unit, and for its existence for a relatively short period of time instead of hundreds of thousands of years.

RESISTANT STRAINS—But soon hopes ran high again. It was discovered that strains of bacteria resistant to penicillin, aureomycin, or chloromycetin appeared when these drugs were given for various diseases. Could it be that here were the "beneficial mutations" that science had been searching for, which natural selection was favoring?

These hopes were dashed when it was discovered that those variations did not arise because of exposure to antibiotics, but instead occurred spontaneously at a constant rate—regardless of whether or not antibiotics were present.

"Certain strains of bacteria and flies seemed to be induced which were resistant to penicillin and DDT, after exposure to these chemicals. As will be shown later they already existed and it only seemed that the fittest were surviving."—Walter E. Larnmerts, book review, in Creation Research Society Quarterly, June 1977, p. 75.

Most resistant strains were actually natural unmutated varieties. They had always been there, but as the unresistant strains were reduced, the naturally resistant types increased in number for a time.

But then came even worse news: A few resistant strains were found to, indeed, be mutants. But it was obvious that these were always weaker and soon died out from natural causes other than the antibiotics.

In regard to the mutated form: Doses of antibiotic reduce the number of the natural strain, and the mutated form takes over. Then when the antibiotic treatment is stopped, the natural strain increases and the resistant strain soon dies out—because, as a mutated form it never was strong.

So both normal variants and occasional mutated forms can be involved. *Georghiou explains the resistance of houseflies to DDT and certain other chemicals, a resistance which is parallel to that of resistant bacteria. He says it is due to normal variant strains, not mutated forms:

"It is now well established that the development of increased ability in insects to survive exposure is not induced directly by the insecticides themselves. These chemicals do not cause the genetic changes in insects [therefore they are not mutation-inducing agents]; they serve only as selective agents, eliminating the more susceptible insects and enabling the more tolerant survivors to increase and fill the void created by the destruction of susceptible individuals."—*C.P. Georghiou, et. al., "Housefly Resistance to lnsecticides, " in California Agriculture, 19:8-10.

The resistance of certain strains of bacteria, flies, Indian meal moths, and Anopheles (malaria) mosquitoes to DDT and other pesticides is not evolution, any more than the breeding of new varieties of dogs and cats is evolution.

THE BENZAR STUDIES—Then in the early 1960s, *Seymour Benzer discovered a chemical way to immensely increase mutations, so genetic data could more quickly be obtained. This enabled scientists to do more accurate and in-depth studies of mutations in genes. Using a certain chemical (5-bromouracil), geneticists were able to increase mutations ten-thousand-fold!

This gave the scientists so much statistical data that they were at last able to confirm what they had suspected all along: Mutations were not 99 percent harmful to the DNA and the organism; they were 100 percent harmful!

It was discovered that in EVERY instance, mutations caused some kind of damage—always! The researchers learned that DNA coding in the genes simply will not tolerate much change. More than just the slight-

THE GREAT FRUIT FLY EXPERIMENTS—For most of the 20th century, researchers have tried to change fruit flies into different species. Many have devoted their lives to the task. The sheer immensity of the task was daunting—yet the goal was keenly anticipated. It would prove that mutations could produce new species. But not once did it happen. If fact, the multiplied millions of mutations induced by countless irraditions on millions of generations of the tiny creatures—more generations of fruit flies than larger creatures could have lived on earth in millions of years—only powerfully disproved the possibility that mutations could produce evolutionary (cross-species) changes. Few men have been as embittered as the conscientious geneticists who wasted their lives on this project.

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