RE: Terminology and Quantification

Mark M. Mills (
Sun, 01 Aug 1999 15:54:42 -0500

Date: Sun, 01 Aug 1999 15:54:42 -0500
From: "Mark M. Mills" <>
Subject: RE: Terminology and Quantification
In-Reply-To: <2CDFE2C8F598D21197C800C04F911B203492B9@DELTA.newhouse.akzo


At 10:12 AM 7/28/99 +0200, you wrote:
>I wonder how far this term will go.
>Well it's been going since about 1973 (I think), certainly since 1981.......
>I prefer to stick with the foundational work on information processing by
>von Neumann. He suggested a simple model for information processing:
genotype +
>ribotype produces phenotype. The genotype contains source information. The
>ribotype transports the information to construction areas where materials
>are assembled and a phenotype is produced. ...
>An obsolete system. There is no ribotype.

I did a search of the web for 'phenogenotype' and 'ribotype.' I found 220
references for 'ribotype,' but only 5 for 'phenogenotype.' Of the 5, 3
were broken links. If, after 26 years, the term 'phenogenotype' has only
caused 5 web references to appear, the term has hardly earned much respect.

Getting back to von Neumann, I'm puzzled by your declaration 'there is no
ribotype.' Ribosomes are a fundamental part of protein creation. Ribosome
plays the ribotype part, protein the phenotype part.

Can you elaborate?

>They (re: Laland, Odling-Smee & Feldman)
>simply bring up a few points about environmental
>change, find this difficult to understand and conclude phenotypes change
>No, I don't think so. They're emphasising that the niche which can be
>constructed (perhaps memetically in 'higher' organisms, genetically in
>'lower' ones) by the organism, can then become a powerful selective pressure
>at the genetic level.
>For instance, I'll give you a well worked out example. Humans have
>(memetically) constructed city niches. Cities need water supplies (memetic
>niche construction again). That niche is a perfect breeding ground for
>cholera (environment imposes selective pressure). Cholera resistance in the
>form of the cystic fibrosis deltaF508 allele has reached a prevalence of
>some 16% or so in western European populations. So there you have it:
>culturally contructed niches have demonstrable genetic effects via selective

Let me see if I understand your example. The deltaF508 allele in human
chromosomes is phenotypic to the urban environmental niche as genotype.
Thus, the human chromosome is phenotypic to an environmental niche genotype.

I have trouble with this because no ribotype seems to exist for your model.
The human chromosome is the product of meiotic processes, none of which
are statistically related to concurrent environmental conditions.


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