The Talk.Origins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy

Publish or Perish
Some Published works on Biochemical Evolution
Edited by John Catalano
[Last Update: October 16, 2001]

Other Links:
The Elusive Scientific Basis of Intelligent Design Theory
So-called "intelligent design theory," of which Behe is a major proponent, has produced no publications in major scientific journals. Who was it that said publish or perish?
Behe's Empty Box
This web page contains many links to web pages supporting or criticizing Behe's work.
Irreducible Complexity and the Evolutionary Literature: Response to Critics
This article includes Behe's response to this page.

On page 179 of Darwin's Black Box Michael Behe claims:

"There has never been a meeting, or a book, or a paper on details of the evolution of complex biochemical systems."

He closes the chapter with this ludicrous statement:

"In effect, the theory of Darwinian molecular evolution has not published, and so it should perish"

(Did someone say publish or perish?: The Elusive Scientific Basis of Intelligent Design Theory)

To be honest, I suspect that the extent of detail Behe is demanding would require a combination cutting-edge biochemistry lab and a time machine. How else can science fully recover, for example, every single step in the evolution of the bacterial flagellum that took place billions of years ago?

In any case the claim itself is false since papers do in fact exist that attempt to flesh out the details of the evolution of various biochemical systems and structures. Many such citations are included below.

But that is only part of the story. There are thousands of additional published papers containing solid and detailed evidence of biochemical evolution:

  • Evidence of gene duplications and subsequent functional divergence, or functional loss in the form of pseudogenes.
  • Evidence of exon shuffling and modular re-use within proteins.
  • Evidence of both natural selection and neutral drift at the molecular level.
  • Evidence of the malleable and adaptive nature of molecular evolution itself. For example in recent shocking cases of bacterial drug resistance - the evolution of evolvability.
  • Evidence that the phylogeny inferred from protein and DNA sequence comparisons is correlated with the phylogeny inferred from evolutionary biology.
  • Evidence that within every studied biochemical system, the "parts" themselves have evolved, and the interactions between those parts have also evolved. Are we to believe that an intelligent designer builds with components that evolve via the blind forces of mutation, selection and drift?

Most of the citations and abstracts below were found using the PubMed MEDLINE search engine and microbiology database. A simple search reveals that there are over 13,000 articles that contain "evolution" as a major subject keyword - hardly the dead silence that Behe proclaims. Granted many of these do not directly address the problem of adaptive complexity in biochemical systems, but many of them do.

Note that I have excluded papers that discuss sequence comparisons being used solely to determine lines of descent. Michael Behe already admits that common descent is reasonable.

Keep in mind this is only a small sampling of citations collected from my own searches, and from the suggestion of others (thanks for those suggestions!)

Last but not least. Please help me find more citations and continue to grow this page - especially if you have a background in biochemistry or microbiology. Thank you.




  • +Do Genomes Enhance Their Own Evolution?  - "At a conference on molecular strategies in biological evolution, researchers discussed how evolutionary strategies can evolve, making the process of evolution more efficient."
  • +New Passion for Evo-Devo - Fifth Annual Meeting of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution

Immune System

Blood Coagulation


Flagella and Cilium

Other Motor Proteins

  • +Kinesin Motor Phylogenetic Tree - Behe likes to play down the importance of sequence comparisons. It's no wonder - just click around this diagram for a while. It becomes obvious that an important motor protein like kinesin has gradually evolved across many species. From the Kinesin HomePage.


Cell Membrane - Receptors, Pumps, etc.

Citric Acid Cycle (Krebs Cycle)

Amino Acid Biosynthesis






Transcription / Translation / Duplication

From Russell F. Doolittle

Drug resistance is biochemical evolution



Someone say Intelligent?

Cancer as Molecular Evolution

Test Tube and Artificial Evolution

Origin of Life and Cells

More Visitor Submissions (thanks!)

Here are a number of articles from a quick search of the Journal of Biological Chemistry using the word "evolution" at --

Andrew P. Spicer and John A. McDonald Characterization and Molecular Evolution of a Vertebrate Hyaluronan Synthase Gene Family J. Biol. Chem. 1998 273: 1923-1932.

Catherine TomHon, Wei Zhu, David Millinoff, Kenji Hayasaka, Jerry L. Slightom, Morris Goodman, and Deborah L. Gumucio Evolution of a Fetal Expression Pattern via cis Changes near the Globin Gene J. Biol. Chem. 1997 272: 14062-14066.

Chien-Chia Wang, Andrey Pavlov, and Jim D. Karam Evolution of RNA-binding Specificity in T4 DNA Polymerase J. Biol. Chem. 1997 272: 17703-17710.

David R. Gang, Hiroyuki Kasahara, Zhi-Qiang Xia, Kristine Vander Mijnsbrugge, Guy Bauw, Wout Boerjan, Marc Van Montagu, Laurence B.Davin, and Norman G. Lewis Evolution of Plant Defense Mechanisms. RELATIONSHIPS OF PHENYLCOUMARAN BENZYLIC ETHER REDUCTASES TO PINORESINOL-LARICIRESINOL AND ISOFLAVONE REDUCTASES J. Biol. Chem. 1999 274: 7516-7527.

Elizabeth A. Bucher, Gurtej K. Dhoot, Mark M. Emerson, Margaret Ober, and Charles P. Emerson, Jr. Structure and Evolution of the Alternatively Spliced Fast Troponin T Isoform Gene J. Biol. Chem. 1999 274: 17661-17670.

Florence Magrangeas, Gilles Pitiot, Sigrid Dubois, Elisabeth Bragado-Nilsson, Michel ChŽrel, SŽverin Jobert, Benoit Lebeau, Olivier Boisteau, Bernard LethŽ, Jacques Mallet, Yannick Jacques, and StŽphane Minvielle Cotranscription and Intergenic Splicing of Human Galactose-1-phosphate Uridylyltransferase and Interleukin-11 Receptor -Chain Genes Generate a Fusion mRNA in Normal Cells. IMPLICATION FOR THE PRODUCTION OF MULTIDOMAIN PROTEINS DURING EVOLUTION J. Biol. Chem. 1998 273: 16005-16010.

James E. Hagstrom, Michael P. Fautsch, Monique Perdok, Anne Vrabel, and Eric D. Wieben Exons Lost and Found. UNUSUAL EVOLUTION OF A SEMINAL VESICLE TRANSGLUTAMINASE SUBSTRATE J. Biol. Chem. 1996271: 21114-21119. [

Juan Ausi— Histone H1 and Evolution of Sperm Nuclear Basic Proteins J. Biol. Chem. 1999 274: 31115-31118.

M. Neale Weitzmann, Kerry J. Woodford, and Karen Usdin DNA Secondary Structures and the Evolution of Hypervariable Tandem Arrays J. Biol. Chem. 1997 272: 9517-9523.

Marieta Costache, Pol-AndrŽ Apoil, Anne Cailleau, Anders Elmgren, Gšran Larson, Stephen Henry, Antoine Blancher, Dana Iordachescu, Rafael Oriol, and Rosella Mollicone Evolution of Fucosyltransferase Genes in Vertebrates J. Biol. Chem. 1997 272: 29721-29728.

Medeiros, Edward G. Rowan, Alan L. Harvey, and AndrŽ MŽnez On the Convergent Evolution of Animal Toxins. CONSERVATION OF A DIAD OF FUNCTIONAL RESIDUES IN POTASSIUM CHANNEL-BLOCKING TOXINS WITH UNRELATED STRUCTURES J. Biol. Chem. 1997 272: 4302-4309.

Ronald E. van Kesteren, Cornelis P. Tensen, August B. Smit, Jan van Minnen, Lee. F. Kolakowski, Jr., Wolfgang Meyerhof, Dietmar Richter, Harm van Heerikhuizen, Erno Vreugdenhil, and Wijnand P. M. Geraerts Co-evolution of Ligand-Receptor Pairs in the Vasopressin/Oxytocin Superfamily of Bioactive Peptides J. Biol. Chem. 1996 271: 3619-3626.

Sandra K. Parker and H. William Detrich III Evolution, Organization, and Expression of -Tubulin Genes in the Antarctic Fish Notothenia coriiceps. ADAPTIVE EXPANSION OF A GENE FAMILY BY RECENT GENE DUPLICATION, INVERSION, AND DIVERGENCE J. Biol. Chem. 1998 273: 34358-34369.

Stefanie Brumme, Volker Kruft, Udo K. Schmitz, and Hans-Peter Braun New Insights into the Co-evolution of Cytochrome c Reductase and the Mitochondrial Processing Peptidase J. Biol. Chem. 1998 273: 13143-13149.

Stephan M. MŸhlebach, Thomas Wirz, Urs BrŠndle, and Jean-Claude Perriard Evolution of the Creatine Kinases J. Biol. Chem. 1996 271: 11920-11929.

Zhe Lu, Elisa Cabiscol, Nuria Obradors, Jordi Tamarit, Joaquim Ros, Juan Aguilar, and E. C. C. Lin Evolution of an Escherichia coli Protein with Increased Resistance to Oxidative Stress J. Biol. Chem. 1998 273: 8308-8316.

(major MeSH 1998 Jan-May)

[Return to the Irreducible Complexity FAQs]

Home Page | Browse | Search | Feedback | Links
The FAQ | Must-Read Files | Index | Creationism | Evolution | Age of the Earth | Flood Geology | Catastrophism | Debates