DOI: 10.14704/nq.2009.7.4.253

On Two Quantum Approaches to Adaptive Mutations in Bacteria

Vasily Ogryzko


The phenomenon of adaptive mutations has been attracting attention of biologists for several decades as challenging the basic premise of the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology. Two approaches, based on the quantum theoretical principles (QMAMs - Quantum Models of Adaptive Mutations) have been proposed in order to explain this phenomenon. In the present work, they are termed Q-cell and Q-genome approaches and are compared using ‘fluctuation trapping’ mechanism as a general framework. Notions of R-error and D-error are introduced, and it is argued that the ‘fluctuation trapping model’ can be considered as a QMAM only if it employs a correlation between the R- and D-errors. It is shown that the model of McFadden & Al-Khalili (1999) cannot qualify as a QMAM, as it corresponds to the 'D-error only' model. Further, the paper compares how the Q-cell and Q-genome approaches can justify the R-D-error correlation, focusing on the advantages of the Q-cell approach. The positive role of environmentally induced decoherence (EID) on both steps of the adaptation process in the framework of the Q-cell approach is emphasized. A starving bacterial cell is proposed to be in an einselected state. The intracellular dynamics in this state has a unitary character and is proposed to be interpreted as ‘exponential growth in imaginary time’, analogously to the commonly considered ‘diffusion’ interpretation of the Schroedinger equation. Addition of a substrate leads to Wick rotation and a switch from ‘imaginary time’ reproduction to a ‘real time’ reproduction regime. Due to the variations at the genomic level (such as base tautomery), the starving cell has to be represented as a superposition of different components, all ‘reproducing in imaginary time’. Any addition of a selective substrate, allowing only one of these components to amplify, will cause Wick rotation and amplification of this component, thus justifying the occurrence of the R-D-error correlation. Further ramifications of the proposed ideas for evolutionary theory are discussed.


Adaptive mutations, quantum mechanics, measurement, decoherence, Lamarck

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