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Bios: Genesis» Forums » Rules

Subject: Disconnect between theme and mechanic - UV Radiation rss

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Colin Taylor
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Hi,

I'm slowly making my way through the rules, but was confused about the way UV Radiation works. Well, not so much confused about the rule, as it seems straightforward. Rather, to me, it seems that the mechanic and theme are in direct conflict, i.e. that a blast of radiation reduces mutation rate. Wouldn't high levels of UV increase mutation rates? Perhaps I misunderstand.

Thanks,

Colin
 
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Rebus Carnival
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It has been a while since I took biochem, but I would surmise that:

UV rays damage and destroy DNA/RNA

Mutations, in this case, represent newly expressed cellular processes, and, because they are new, they do not have the redundancies of the established, time tested genes

Thematically, the loss of mutation represents the failure of speciation, but the survival of the original, non-adapted stock.

In summation, highly conserved DNA sequences with coded redundancies are more likely to survive any type of disruption, because a "spare copy" of the gene is available. New adaptations are likely less conserved.

Thoughts? I like biochem but it is not my specialty. I found the UV BS seriously upsetting to my PAH Pigment Space Bacteria who really struggled to become Lamp Shells. The hangers on didn't help. The salmonella stole the game with those shared trophic VP.cry
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Valerio Vitelli
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I think the problem lies on the fact that what Phil called "mutations" cards are representing genes. Sure, during evolution new gene are created by mutations and at the same time mutations (caused by UV rays for example) may completely disrupt that gene function, But most of the time is the second, hence why UV ray disrupt "mutations" cards.
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Colin Taylor
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rebuscarnival wrote:
It has been a while since I took biochem, but I would surmise that:

UV rays damage and destroy DNA/RNA

Mutations, in this case, represent newly expressed cellular processes, and, because they are new, they do not have the redundancies of the established, time tested genes

Thematically, the loss of mutation represents the failure of speciation, but the survival of the original, non-adapted stock.

In summation, highly conserved DNA sequences with coded redundancies are more likely to survive any type of disruption, because a "spare copy" of the gene is available. New adaptations are likely less conserved.

Thoughts? I like biochem but it is not my specialty. I found the UV BS seriously upsetting to my PAH Pigment Space Bacteria who really struggled to become Lamp Shells. The hangers on didn't help. The salmonella stole the game with those shared trophic VP.cry


I guess I don't understand how the lack of conserved sequences makes a new, mutated gene more susceptible to UV radiation than older genes.

Thanks,

Colin
 
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Colin Taylor
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wolframius wrote:
I think the problem lies on the fact that what Phil called "mutations" cards are representing genes. Sure, during evolution new gene are created by mutations and at the same time mutations (caused by UV rays for example) may completely disrupt that gene function, But most of the time is the second, hence why UV ray disrupt "mutations" cards.


Well, I haven't reached the mutations section yet, so if you say that is a misnomer, that helps. But why are mutated "new" genes more susceptible to UV radiation than any other? Wouldn't a blast of UV potentially disrupt also housekeeping genes? Why does a UV blast resort the organism back closer to its original form, rather than produce even more mutated genes? (I understand that it's not reversing the mutation, but rather killing off the newer organisms, and leaving the original forms, but still, I don't follow why UV is reflected in the game the way it is.)

Colin
 
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Rebus Carnival
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ColintheFlea wrote:
I guess I don't understand how the lack of conserved sequences makes a new, mutated gene more susceptible to UV radiation than older genes.

Thanks,

Colin


Don't think of it cutting a gene out of a particular organism. Think of it as the entire species that carries that gene being wiped out. The specialized new species fails its genetic fitness test by relying on a new adaptation, and when its DNA/RNA is damaged it cannot reproduce, and disappears. The parent species which does not rely those genes continues to reproduce and you revert to playing that species.

Bacteria are crazy. Remember that every turn is 200 million years. E.coli can double in under an hour. That is an insane amount of RNA/DNA replication per turn. Every time you open that puppy up, you risk an error in the code. The genes represented by the mutations are very complicated. All the individual proteins for the intracellular machinery all have to be coded, transcribed, manufactured. That's more and more chances for errors.

Got a little rambley. Back to the Pax Renaissance rules.
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Colin Taylor
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Hi,

I get the concept of whole populations getting wiped out, but this isn't an extinction event, right? But that's surely not how UV radiation would work. It would randomly affect individuals, not populations. So the chances of only impacting those with the mutations doesn't work. It would proportionally affect ALL individuals, and wipe out no entire populations. In addition, it could even positively affect some individuals, providing a period of rapid mutation. Probably not a good thing in higher organisms, but as you mention, lower organisms could reproduce so fast, that it could bring long term benefit. So why do mutations disappear, when it's just as likely, if not more, to increase the mutations. That's all I'm saying.

And remember, what you mention about reproductive errors happens all the time, just at a higher rate with increased radiation.

Thanks,

Colin
 
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Rebus Carnival
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Mutation meltdown.

There are too many mutations for the inviable ones to be selected out. Older populations are more robust and larger, thus weather the UV crisis better. I think a smaller population size is implied by the number of mutations, each mutated population is only 200MYO at the time of the UV event.

Here is a quick paper on the subject.



 
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Colin Taylor
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Ok, so we are assuming that we are in control of an entirely different organism after the UV Radiation, rather than evolving a single population. So it seems Mullers Ratchet explains the UV effect on asexual organisms. What about sexual? What is the UV effect on them? Also, as far as I can tell, you are not forced to remove the most recent mutation, implying that it isn't the youngest population at risk.

Unfortunately, despite originally thinking this game was right up my alley, I'm rapidly realizing it isn't. Oh well.

Colin
 
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Phil Eklund
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ColintheFlea wrote:
Hi,

I'm slowly making my way through the rules, but was confused about the way UV Radiation works. Well, not so much confused about the rule, as it seems straightforward. Rather, to me, it seems that the mechanic and theme are in direct conflict, i.e. that a blast of radiation reduces mutation rate. Wouldn't high levels of UV increase mutation rates? Perhaps I misunderstand.

Thanks,

Colin


Radiation is a design problem in the game, namely is it beneficial or destructive to biology in the long run? Although Greenpeace would surely disagree, there is a goldilocks zone for radiation. Not too hot (which would kill everything), not too cold (crystal catastrophe), but just right.

Naturally, this goldilocks zone is much different for prokaryotes than for eukaryotes. The early Earth had no ozone layer and was bathed in UV, even more intensely than Mars is today. This UV flux is much too hot even for microbes, and so life must have developed protected from UV, for instance underwater.

Very high radiation fluxes, not just UV but gammas, cosmic rays, neutrons, favor very simple microbes, while low fluxes favor mutation rates favorable for ever more complicated life.

I needed a game mechanism to prevent players to accumulate too many "frivolous" genomes, which realistically would be discriminated against in evolution. With regards to frivolous DNA, there is a huge and (to me at least) puzzling difference between prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The prokaryote genome is lean and mean, not one wasted gene. It is stripped to the bone. The eukaryote genome, in everything from protists to humans, is filled with junk like a family garage, unused experiments, toys no longer needed, Christmas decorations, empty aquariums for long dead fish, forgotten photos and projects, and junk DNA. A reproducing protist could carpet the entire globe in the amount of time it takes a eukaryote to carpet a postage stamp.

Lane credits this difference to the fact that eukaryotes are a committee of genomes, expecially the mitochondria endosymbionts, with everything designed by committee. This makes eukaryotes a lot less efficient, but also gives it a lot of design space for frivolous genomes. I am still struggling to understand this, and unfortunately think I did not sufficiently distinguish eukaryotes from prokaryotes in the game, and incorrectly tied the difference to promotion of mutations rather than the acquisition of endosymbionts.

Despite this failure, demoting mutations during environmental atrophy accurately reflects removing eukaryote experiments during environmental stress. Radiation is handled differently, reducing prokaryotes into protolife. This seems reasonable way to handle the early radiation levels. This reflects a removal of the most "advanced" experiments, rather than a regression or atrophy of individuals.

What does extinction and atrophy represent in the game? Since each biont represents an entire suite of beings, it does NOT mean a microbe loses its mutations, it is rather that the most complicated versions die out, leaving the simpler ones alive.

For a sobering book on how life progresses and regresses, see "The Life And Death Of Planet Earth" by Peter Ward. This shows the reasons why Earth has passed its ideal point for complex life, and now is in its senescence. As it does, life will go backwards in the same order it progressed, from macroorganisms to eukarotes to prokaryotes to protolife. One of the problems is that as the Earth runs out of its precious atmospheric CO2, photosynthesis shuts down and the Earth reverts to a colorful microbial world, reminiscent of that around certain hot springs. Only a few tens of thousand years ago, yesterday really, Earth came within a whisper of shutting down 90% of all plant life. Again, Greenpeace would disagree.
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Colin Taylor
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phileklund wrote:
This reflects a removal of the most "advanced" experiments, rather than a regression or atrophy of individuals.

What does extinction and atrophy represent in the game? Since each biont represents an entire suite of beings, it does NOT mean a microbe loses its mutations, it is rather that the most complicated versions die out, leaving the simpler ones alive.


Hi Phil,

Thanks for the detailed answer. Sorry I didn't respond earlier. I was away for Thanksgiving.

The section of your post that I left above is the part that is bothering me. I'm no evolutionary biologist, but I'm struggling to understand why it is the most complex microbes that are impacted by UV Radiation. A quick read on Muller's ratchet does suggest that smaller populations of asexual organisms are prone to extinction from radiation. But I couldn't easily determine what constitutes a small population. Surely a microbe with a beneficial mutation(s) would quickly move beyond "small", to a point where it would be no more likely to die off than the parent organism would. Is that an incorrect assumption?

Also, I think it's a mentally difficult situation to imagine that during the game, we are developing a population, then suddenly we lose that population, and instead, pick up again as one of the earlier relations. Now I know that is the intent, it may be a little easier to grasp, but it may have been helpful to hint at that a little more in the rules. Maybe people just do what the rules say to do, but with this game having so much detail, it may have benefited to explain what exactly is going on. This is exacerbated by the fact that the player gets to choose which mutations to remove, resulting in an organism that is neither the most advanced version of the organism, nor any that appeared in the timeline it took to get there.

Overall, I'm still struggling with the rules for Bios: Genesis, and will be waiting for one or two video play throughs before I tackle a game. It may be simple to play, but it is proving very difficult to grasp for me.

Thanks,

Colin
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Rich James
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I think the best hint that we are dealing with populations, not individual organisms, comes from the very start of the rulebook (A. What's This Game About?):

Quote:
Each event card encapsulates 200 million years [...]
 
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Colin Taylor
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I know we are dealing with populations. I'm saying that I wasn't aware that we can actually dump a population, and pick up another one during the game.

Colin
 
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