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The Lie: Evolution


The Origin of Mosquitoes 

Excerpted from:

“The Genesis of Malaria--The Origin of Mosquitoes and Their Protistan Cargo,   Plasmodium falciparum” by   Dr. Alan Gillen   and   Frank J. Sherwin, III   on June 19, 2013.

The Design of Mosquitoes

Of all the insects that God created, it is the mosquito (Fig. 5) that has produced the most death and misery in human history. If God made everything good, then where do they fit in? Male mosquitoes are harmless, designed with mouthparts that can only feed on plant juices and nectar. Only females need the protein found in a blood meal to produce eggs. Most female mosquitoes have a large proboscis and stylets for piercing skin. Females feed mostly at night on small mammals, primates, and humans. They find their hosts by exhaled carbon dioxide located by the mosquito’s sensitive antennae. By probing the skin they locate a capillary and begin to feed. The need for blood is a reproductive (gamete formation) issue, more so than a “survival” issue.

Mosquitoes as Pollinators

In today’s world, some tend to think of mosquitoes as God’s “mistake” or a vicious outcome of the Curse. After all, they are not only the deadly vectors of malaria, but also West Nile encephalitis, yellow fever, dengue fever, elephantiasis (lymphatic filariasis) and many more viral (and some parasitic) diseases. However, creationists maintain they did not carry these diseases before the Fall. Not surprisingly, there is much evidence of intelligent design in their anatomy, physiology and purpose in the natural world. Like bees, they were probably designed as pollinators. Mosquitoes pollinate goldenrod, grasses, and different types of the large group of orchids even today. After the Curse, it appears the nutritional needs of mosquitoes changed.

In his 8–9 day life cycle, the male mosquito must find a mate. During this time he takes in nectar through his designed proboscis. His wings beat silently and his antennae have been specially equipped with special sensory cells equipped with hairs. The female’s wings are designed to beat with an intensity that can move these hairs up to 10 inches away. This stimulates the mating process and associated physiological changes. The female carefully stores the male’s sperm in a special sac in her body to later fertilize eggs.

Each blood meal ensures the female mosquito will have a healthy batch of eggs. She embarks on her hunt for a blood meal using her ultra-sensitive antennae. Once she locates her victim, she uses her infamous proboscis (designed with microscopic ridges to reduce pain) to inject her numbing and anticoagulant juices. Within this structure are also two tiny spears or stylets, and a “saw” for cutting through skin. A syringe connected to a pump in her head allows her to draw up to three to four times her body weight in blood (seen in her semi-transparent abdomen). Previously, the originally good design may have enabled mosquitoes to penetrate into thick plant tissues or even beneath soil to reach the roots of plants.

Insight from Other Protistan “Cargo”

Creation biologists maintain the Protistan “cargo” of mosquitoes did not originally need blood to survive and reproduce and that plant extracts supplied the nutritional needs. For example Haemosporidia (like   Plasmodium) and trypanosomes may have utilized a protein similar to leghemoglobin (a plant hemoprotein). In today’s world, mosquitoes cannot reach the leghemoglobin found in the roots of soy plants. Perhaps a similar protein once existed in an extinct plant, or mosquitoes once had a way of accessing this protein found in soybeans.

Crithidia fasciculata   is a trypanosome (parasitic protozoan, Figs. 6 and 7) of the phylum Euglenozoa and has a single host, the mosquito   Anopheles (first described in 1902). Since its initial discovery,   C. fasciculata  has been found to infect many species of the nearly 450 species of Anopheles. Over the past 100 years   Crithidia fasciculata  has been used to investigate protozoan metabolism. Early studies showed that   Crithidiacould be grown in peptone water with blood added. Since the 1960s papers were published describing cultural conditions and organic requirements of this parasite. Although   Crithidia fasciculata  has been used for metabolic studies, the research was hampered by inconsistent growth using traditional media of the 20th century. We therefore undertook a systematic search for the chemical and physical conditions that would permit rapid and abundant growth of the organism (Fig. 7).

At Liberty University, Gillen (2013) describes modified chemically-defined media for   Crithidia fasciculata  which allows for consistent analysis of its nutritional and metabolic patterns. Using these improved conditions we have examined growth factor requirements of   Crithidia fasciculata. Data was collected on   Crithidia’s growth factors using a spectrophotometer. The conditions for luxuriant axenic (free of contamination) cultivation of this trypanosome using chemically-defined media were determined in a parasitology class.   Crithidia  is a hardy organism and survives in a variety of media. It grows and reproduces best in a blood-enriched medium or in trypticase soy broth (TSB) with added folic acid and vitamin B 12. TSB + folic acid + B 12 (plant-based material) is a reasonable substitute for blood. Reproduction as shown by numerous rosette formations indicates Crithidia  can reproduce well in plant-extract environment if the right amino acids and vitamins are supplied.

In laboratory experiments , Crithidia fasciculata  will survive longer on a blood agar broth than any   Crithidia  media (including the vitamin-enriched TSB + B 12  + folic acid). Mosquitoes and their “cargo” (whether Crithidia fasciculata  or   Plasmodium) can survive and reproduce on either blood or plant-extracts. But it appears blood can provide an extended sustainability. Mosquitoes would possibly require more plant extracts for their nutritional requirement. Compared to nectar and plant extracts, blood is a rich, scarlet soup of proteins. Mosquitoes feeding on blood receive a rich source of protein and nutrients for egg production. However, there is a cost to the mosquito. Blood is heavy and makes the slow mosquito vulnerable to predation. Once mosquitoes obtain blood, they are also more vulnerable to be “swatted” by a human or animal (as opposed to plant) host, making this slower mobility even more of a risk.

Blood agar added to TSB provided a media for rich growth but plant-based trypticase soy broth with vitamins (folic acid and B 12) provide similar high growth and reproductive yields. Perhaps   Plasmodium  and   Anopheles  with a mammalian intermediate host of today had its protein demands uniquely fulfilled by nutritious plant-based products in the past.

Mosquito Microbiome

One practical consideration in studying mosquito “cargo” is altering its microbiota to inhibit pathogenicity. Perhaps in the mosquito’s originally designed microbiome, bacteria blocked pathogens and parasites from becoming established in their hosts. Recent research on   Wolbachia, a genus of bacteria that “colonize” insects (including mosquitoes) and nematodes, indicates it can alter the pathogenic properties of these invertebrates by ecologically displacing them. These intracellular bacteria generally form symbiotic relationships with their hosts. When   Wolbachia  colonize and “infect” mosquitoes, such as   Aedes aegypti, the transmission of dengue fever is halted. This research has been done for about a decade in an attempt to control Flaviviridae (yellow and dengue fever) infections. In recent studies (Enserink 2013), scientists have now been able to infect   Anopheles stephensi  with   Wolbachia  and alter the transmission of malaria.   Anopheles stephensi  is a key malaria vector in South Asia and the Middle East. Perhaps in the original design of mosquitoes, bacteria such as   Wolbachia  were part of its normal microbiome, thus inhibiting the effect of   Plasmodium(malaria) or viral infections.

The key seems to be ecological residency. People normally do not get fungal skin infections because normal bacterial biota are already there taking up that ecological niche and preventing fungi from getting a foothold. The sciences of microbiology and parasitology use biological controls and apply ecological principles. For example, biologists pit microbes against one another when they add a benign resident like   Wolbachia  to a mosquito vector. Once   Wolbachiamoves in and establishes residence (i.e. take up that ecological niche), then parasites like   Plasmodium  cannot occupy this space, and they are controlled. Biologists are currently utilizing nonpathogenic bacteria to counteract and control virulent microbial pathogens and parasites. Results indicate they can now quell a variety of infectious disease. According to a survey   Wolbachia  species are found in 65% of all insect species, including 28% of mosquito species. In many cases, hosts are protected from pathogens and parasites, including nematodes and viruses, as well as those that cause malaria.   Wolbachia  may well boost the insect immune system, priming it to attack virulent microbes and parasites (Weiman 2013). In a pre-Fallen world,   Wolbachia  and   Plasmodium  may have co-inhabited mosquito guts and each controlled the overgrowth of the other. We do not know the original, complex ecological web of mosquito gut microbiota, but this line of research may provide clues to the original design. The “balance” (or imbalance) of numbers in the normal microbiome may be a key to the puzzle of malaria’s origin.

Mutualism and Creation Worldview of Parasites

One may wonder, in regard to intelligent design, why would a benevolent Creator make such creature that causes such misery? The answer is the original structure and life cycle were likely of algal origin. The proto- Plasmodium  kind was likely designed in the manner of corals with dinoflagellates—abundant and helpful to the entire ecosystem. As in all theoretical scientific endeavors, research continues in this difficult area of parasite origin.

Beneficial symbiosis was most likely the norm in God’s Creation. There was a biomatrix—an interwoven organization (i.e. organosubstrate, Francis 2003)—throughout the entire earth. Parasitism is a secondary state in nature. The complexity of life cycles and “ease” of adaptation to other hosts points to malaria cargo as being symbiotic from the beginning. All humans and animals (and animal-like protists) were dependent upon plants, not blood or flesh for food in the original Creation ( Genesis 1:29–30). We know that there is life in the blood, and in this broken/fallen world we suggest malaria (and any other disease) had its genesis after the Edenic Curse of   Genesis 3 .

Summary and Conclusions

The   evolution  model is one of upward, onward progression including serial endosymbiosis that has one cell kind ensconced within another.   Plasmodium  entered the life cycle evolving in the mosquito, then vertebrates (including mammals), and ultimately man. The creation model offers a better explanation for the observed   Plasmodium  “kind.” It predicts that all microbial life was created as kinds, subject to limited change or variation, including decay in its genome and structure. The   Plasmodium  “kind” was fully developed in form and life cycle, functional, and genetically isolated as a kind. No evidence of   evolution  from one kind of organism to another exists. Further, the mere probabilities against the natural evolution  of the   Plasmodium  kind favor the supernatural origin of the   Plasmodium  kind, and laboratory evidence of   Crithidia easily converting from blood- to plant-based food supports the concept of limited change within each kind.

In the “very good” pre-Fall world there was true ecological harmony with an intimate association of individuals of different species (symbiosis). Creation microbiologists are currently investigating the role of single-celled eukaryotic creatures in the organosubstrate model. While the controlling factors that direct invasiveness of   Plasmodium  are not well understood, the progression from originally free-living single-celled eukaryotes (neutral or beneficial) toward a pathogenic condition after the Fall could have occurred through a number of mechanisms leading to a parasitic condition.