RE: Terminology and Quantification

Gatherer, D. (
Mon, 02 Aug 1999 09:32:24 +0200

Date: Mon, 02 Aug 1999 09:32:24 +0200
From: "Gatherer, D. (Derek)" <>
Subject: RE: Terminology and Quantification
To: "''" <>

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.

Alas! This is I dare say true, but that is only because Cavallian memetics
has remained a specialist taste. Within that strand of memetics, it remains
a central concept, and not one I think will be soon given up (I mean it's
quite necessary to the whole cultural trait methodology - you have to be
able to think about phenogenotypes to do any of the modelling).

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.

Nowadays, 'ribotyping' is used as a jargon word to describe the genotyping
of micororganisms according to their rRNA and ribosomal proteins, but that
is part of the genotype of those organisms, and has nothing to do with von
Neumann's notion. The idea that genetics has to contend with 3 levels of
description has not been found to be necessary. Genotype and phenotype are
sufficient. It's Occam's Razor, I suppose.

Let me see if I understand your [cystic fibrosis] 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.

No the allele is a genotype that has been selected. The phenotype is
cholera resistance. The environment is a typical mediaeval city with nasty

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.

No I disagree, the genes we have on our chromosomes are there because
natural selection in the past has favoured them (or because of drift/founder
effect etc). Natural selection is a product of concurrent environmental

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