Mixing Species, or Let's create a novel pathogen!
It's been awhile since I've written anything for dendroboard. Current events present an opportunity to back up a very real scenario.
Is everybody sick of hearing me talk about the creation of a novel pathogen yet? Too bad. I'm going to do it again.
If I wanted to create a novel pathogen, I could do it. I wouldn't even need a laboratory. Here's how simple it would be.
Build a vivarium and put multiple species from different parts of the world in it. Supply conditions favorable for keeping these multiple species alive for an extended period of time.
Here's what can happen. Species 1 carries pathogens that it has developed immunities for. Species 2 has not been introduced to that pathogen and has no natural antibodies or immunities. If luck is on on the side of species 2, then the pathogen that species 1 carries will not be able to infect him.
Over time, however, this can still become problematic. Perhaps, even more problematic. You have created an environment in which both species can thrive. Therefore, species 2 is always in close contact with this seemingly harmless pathogen from species 1.
You have created a situation in which our harmless little pathogen can keep reproducing within species 1. The entire time, every new generation has the chance to adapt. Every new generation has the chance to become something that will affect species 2. Come on, we all saw Jurassic Park.
"If there's one thing the history of evolution has taught us, it's that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, it expands to new territories, and crashes through barriers painfully, maybe even dangerously, but, uh, well, there it is. ..."
"Life, uh, finds a way"
So will that pathogen, and who knows what it will become in the process? Are you aware that a virus can pick up any portion of its host's DNA, and Incorporated into its own viral genome? Bacteria also trade genes between each other quite readily.
There it is, friends. We have just created a new viral pathogen. I wonder if we'll get extra credit for the multiple bacterial pathogens we may have also created? What I'm trying to say here is, we have created a novel pathogen. Who knows what other species it could now attack? Could it become as bad as chytrid, wiping out every amphibian it crosses paths with? Could it even become chytrid itself? You better believe we're going to loop back around to that in a while.
"Oh, but Doug", you say, " we've heard you and Ed preach this before, and it all sounds like science fiction."
I'm not done yet. Let's look at another way to create a novel pathogen.
Set up an open air market place. Sell all kinds of weird, exotic meats. You could even sell the meat of the exotic pangolin. Being the worlds only scaled mammal, that should fetch a pretty penny, don't you think? Ideally, you'd want to keep plenty of people crowding through the place at all times. You want to keep sanitary conditions low, and maybe have some bats do an occasional fly by. Really, the more different species you can cram in there, the better your chances.
This, my friends, is covid-19...a novel pathogen.
The latest genetic testing shows that in all probability, covid 19 started from bats in China. The latest genetic testing indicates that the virus spread from bats to the Pangolin.
In the testing of 1000 animals, scientists found a 99% match in the genome sequencing of the virus found in pangolins and in human species.
The creation of a novel pathogen is NOT science fiction. Look around. It's affecting all of us right now. This is affecting everyone you know. The creation of a novel pathogen is nothing to be taken lightly.
I've been away from the Frog hobby for a while now, so perhaps this has changed. Once Upon a Time, the dreaded frog plague known as Chytrid, was theorized to have been created by accident, possibly within our very own frog Hobby, by keeping inappropriate animals together.
The very disease that threatens every frog hobbyist, may have been created by a frog hobbyist.
I will say it again, the creation of a novel pathogen is nothing to be taken lightly.
If you were expecting me to teach you how to mix species, sorry. I do not condone the mixing of animal species from different parts of the world.
It's not a theory anymore, people. Knock it off! Quit mixing species!
Questions are not ignorance. Questions are the birth of knowledge.