Ginkgo ghost story reported in ScienceNOW 9 August 2006.

Gingko biloba, also known as the maidenhair tree, is used as a source of herbal medicine. In 1992 a French cell biologist, Jocelyne Trémouillaux-Guiller from the Université François-Rabelais de Tours noticed that cell cultures used to produce ginkgo medicinal products contained “algal ghosts” – cell-like structures without a nucleus or chloroplasts. However, when the gingko cells died the “ghosts” came to life and developed into free-living algae (single celled plants) that were capable of photosynthesis.

Trémouillaux-Guiller and Volker Huss of University of Erlangen, Germany have now found the algae in the reproductive tissues, but not the leaves, of ginkgoes from Germany, France, USA and China. The algae were in every tree they tested. The researchers suspect that the algae are involved in making the gingko’s unique medicinal substances. Making these compounds involves two compartments in the cell, the cytosol and “some unknown organelle”. The algae may be that organelle.

Because ginkgoes are considered to be very old in the evolutionary timetable, Douglas Zook of Boston University commented: “That makes me think that symbiosis is part of an ancient story.” Lichen expert David Richardson of St Mary’s University, Canada commented that the ginkgo research indicates that symbiosis “is almost basic to life”.

Editorial Comment: David Richardson is right – the more we learn about how living things interact with one another, the more we see that symbiosis is the norm, rather than the exception. Symbiosis is a challenge to evolution as it is another level of complexity in living organisms beyond that of individual living things.

Symbiosis is good because it results in mutual benefit to both organisms, and it fits well with the Biblical history of the world. Genesis tells us when God created the world it was “very good”. Scripture also tells us that the creation reflects God’s character, e.g. Romans 1:20. God is trinity of three persons working in complete harmony, i.e. mutual support is part of His character. This is the opposite of the evolutionary means of producing the living world as proposed by Darwin, who claimed that the “war of nature, famine and death”, i.e. destructive competition, brought living things into existence.

There is destructive competition in the world today, but that is because the world did not stay “very good”. The world has degenerated because of human sin and God’s judgement and part of this downward change is the loss or corruption of symbiotic relationships. However, as biologists find more and more examples of symbiosis they are more and more “without excuse” for ignoring the Creator.

Evidence News 12 Dec 2008

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