Is genetic material universal?

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
Bez
Cub
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2018 6:19 am

Is genetic material universal?

Postby Bez » Sat Oct 12, 2019 4:07 pm

As the title says, I was wondering whether there is any canonical material that explains the structures of genetic material across known space.

We know that several species were transplanted across various worlds by The Ancients, and that they had the ability to manipulate DNA. The Ancients would maybe had hesitated to place Terran species onto planets if the genetic material was drastically different. Sophonts would quite notice that their genetic material was different to every other species on their world and concluded that they were not natives.

Therefore, I supposed that genetic material is universal. Protein chains will naturally form into DNA/RNA under certain conditions, using the same 4 bases that Terran life possesses.

Any thoughts?

Apologies if this is dead horse flagging but I can’t find anywhere where it is covered.
Moppy
Greater Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 1046
Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2015 12:42 pm

Re: Is genetic material universal?

Postby Moppy » Sat Oct 12, 2019 4:20 pm

Even if the bases are the same, there are many ways to assemble them. So they would have noticed they weren't natives when they developed the ability to sequence DNA and saw, or did not see, shared patterns (sequences) being passed down via evolution, and realised that since some of these sequences can be re-arranged with no noticable effect, there must be more than one way to assemble them, and therfore a shared sequences means an ancestor.

This assumes Traveller has evolution. It's still called "the solomani hypothesis" in the game. It's not clear, in any materials I can find.
AnotherDilbert
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 3934
Joined: Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:49 pm
Location: Sweden

Re: Is genetic material universal?

Postby AnotherDilbert » Sat Oct 12, 2019 4:29 pm

Moppy
Greater Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 1046
Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2015 12:42 pm

Re: Is genetic material universal?

Postby Moppy » Sat Oct 12, 2019 4:47 pm

For some (primarily religious, but not necessarily always) people, humans are fundamentally separated from the "lower" animals, so the evolution of unintelligent life wouldn't necessarily mean that humans evolved. Even some non-religious people have trouble with it, assigning some "magical" quality to human intelligence.

All I can find is that the solomani hypothesis is generally accepted in Traveller, but being a hypothesis, it means they have no evidence for it. Hypothesis = a guess. Theory = a testable hypothesis backed up by evidence.

Perhaps I am too strict with the termonology but perhaps it's deliberately vague so as not to offend some?\

Personally, just for the record, I believe in the evolution of humans, and that there's nothing magical about human intelligence. However, most of the people around me do not.

edit: Actually if someone could find it in canon, if it exists, I'd be grateful. So many books ...
Moppy
Greater Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 1046
Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2015 12:42 pm

Re: Is genetic material universal?

Postby Moppy » Sat Oct 12, 2019 5:01 pm

Ooh! Found it!

http://wiki.travellerrpg.com/Solomani#S ... olution.29

Human evolution confirmed.
Bez
Cub
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2018 6:19 am

Re: Is genetic material universal?

Postby Bez » Sat Oct 12, 2019 5:18 pm

Cool. Thanks for the replies.

I can’t see that The Solomani Hypothesis answers the question though. Is DNA universal? Does every organism across known space use DNA/RNA as genetic material, or are there different ways of coding inheritable traits?
Bez
Cub
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2018 6:19 am

Re: Is genetic material universal?

Postby Bez » Sat Oct 12, 2019 5:28 pm

I just realised that I’ve asked this question before, and forgot - D’OH!

I don’t think I was totally convinced by previous answers so have been pondering it ever since.

I know that as a Ref, I will simply state that in my games, genetic material is, indeed universal, and it is a particular property of proteins to form into the familiar double-helix that we know.

It makes things less mysterious, but satisfies my way of thinking more.
NOLATrav
Banded Mongoose
Posts: 286
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2015 7:42 pm

Re: Is genetic material universal?

Postby NOLATrav » Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:39 pm

I think that’s a good call. There’s still a million crazy life forms for the players to fight, even creatures living in gas giants.

When you deviate from our D/RNA patterning save it for some truly alien aliens.
Condottiere
Chief Mongoose
Posts: 7469
Joined: Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:23 pm

Re: Is genetic material universal?

Postby Condottiere » Wed Oct 16, 2019 10:21 am

Only mushrooms are pan-universal.
Moppy
Greater Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 1046
Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2015 12:42 pm

Re: Is genetic material universal?

Postby Moppy » Wed Oct 16, 2019 11:51 am

Niven's Known Space universe life on Earth was seeded from alien yeast, carried to Earth by precursor aliens as food.
ShawnDriscoll
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 2935
Joined: Sun Dec 13, 2009 6:13 pm

Re: Is genetic material universal?

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Wed Oct 16, 2019 4:44 pm

Bez wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 5:18 pm
Cool. Thanks for the replies.

I can’t see that The Solomani Hypothesis answers the question though. Is DNA universal? Does every organism across known space use DNA/RNA as genetic material, or are there different ways of coding inheritable traits?
This is what I immediately thought when I read the thread title. I don't remember my genetic biology though. Maybe DNA can be built with different molecules on different worlds, whether it "evolved" there or it was "intelligently designed."
Linwood
Lesser Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 581
Joined: Thu Jun 29, 2017 12:41 am

Re: Is genetic material universal?

Postby Linwood » Thu Oct 17, 2019 10:40 am

Something like DNA seems likely to be universal in the real world, but I suspect it would likely have significant differences in its composition.
Condottiere
Chief Mongoose
Posts: 7469
Joined: Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:23 pm

Re: Is genetic material universal?

Postby Condottiere » Sun Oct 20, 2019 5:24 am

Spontaneous combustion of organic molecules.

After that, mutation.
SSWarlock
Greater Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 1051
Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2007 3:26 pm
Location: Fulacin/Rhylanor/Spinward Marches

Re: Is genetic material universal?

Postby SSWarlock » Sun Oct 20, 2019 5:08 pm

All life on Earth uses nucleic acids to transmit information. Nucleic acids are long chains of individual units called nucleotides. When chained together, they create molecules known as deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA, or ribonucleic acid, RNA. Those molecules carry information through generations of a species and through the cells of an organism. The information is contained in the specific sequence of nucleotides, and the genetic code is the way in which an organism uses the order of nucleotides to direct its development. It's the same among plants, animals, bacteria and fungi -- that's why it's called "universal."

HOWEVER...

It's universal only as far as life (as the human species defines it) on Earth goes. Find a form of life based on different forms of nucleic acids or not on nucleic acids at all and then everything changes. And back in 2014, the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK changed all that. Here's a link to an article on their work.
https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn ... na-or-rna/

Just because we find something is "universal" on Earth doesn't actually make it the standard throughout the Universe or even the known cosmos. That's why we need Travellers..to go find out.
Sir Dhaven Hevelin, IOD, Baronet of Fulacin
Owner/Captain - S.S. Warlock

Playing Traveller/RQ/D&D since 1977

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 21 guests