I found this video by a creationist who claims that the nylon eating ability of bacteria was not the result of an increase in genetic information. Does he actually have a point or is he wrong?


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    Could you please quote a relevant part of the video, or any other source for this claim.
    – Mad Scientist
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 7:27
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    @nomenagentis I think it's a fairly common creationist argument that "genetic information cannot be created, therefore God". But how do you define genetic information in this (or any) case? Do you mean that there's a gene there now that wasn't there before? That the new bacteria is now genetically a different species? That more of the bacteria's geneome is active than was before (some genes "switch on/off" others)? Something else?
    – GordonM
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 10:07
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    The entire "increase in genetic information" is a red herring, it's a fundamental misunderstanding of how evolution works...
    – JasonR
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 13:06
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    The conclusion "When the bacterium can evolve a new ability in just 9 days, why didn't it evolve at all for millions of years?" is rooted in another common creationist misconception. Evolution doesn't happen when the organisms are already perfectly adapted to its niche. It only happens when it improves the chance to procreate.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 16:45
  • @MadScientist The video is about 5 minutes long and I am not knowledgeable enough about biology to pull and summarize the main argument from it
    – Ovi
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 6:59

1 Answer 1


Nylon is an artificial polymer invented by Wallace Hume in Dupont. The nylon polymer or the linkages that bind the subunits together were not found in nature before 1935. By 1975, bacteria capable of hydrolyzing nylon found in waste water from nylon plants were discovered. Genes for hydrolyzing the artificial polymer nylon could not have been present from the beginning in the bacteria, since in the absence of the substrate (nylon not present before 1935), the gene product becomes non-functional, and the gene would have mutated to uselessness or an entirely different function in a few hundred/thousand years by random mutations.

The author William M. Thwaites, 1985 states in his paper that,

The proteins that are formed by frame-shift mutations are totally useless sequences of amino acids that have no structural, antigenic, or enzymatic relationship to the original protein. This time, however, the new protein was useful. Being useful, it was retained by natural selection and was finally discovered by biochemists who noticed a bacterium that could live on industrial waste.

Generation of the nylon hydrolyzing genes is standard mutation followed by selection as experimental data does not support directed mutation and no known mechanism supports directed mutation. This is shown by the author in the paper 'Biodegradation of nylon oligomers'

Through selective cultivation using nylon oligomers as a sole source of carbon and nitrogen, two strains which initially had no metabolic activity for nylon oligomers, Flavobacterium sp. KI725 and Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1, were given the ability to degrade xenobiotic compounds.

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    -1. The first paragraph is false. Genes for hydrolysis (and general breakdown) of many manmade drugs exist in humans because their enzymes can also catalyse the breakdown of other, natural, substances.
    – March Ho
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 9:52
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    A good answer, but it overlooks the fundamental flaw with the claim: "New information" isn't a meaningful concept in genetics. Creationists love to throw this term around as a means of explaining "micro-evolution", without allowing for "macro-evolution". But what is meant by "new information" or "an increase in genetic information"? The term doesn't have a definition in genetics, because it was invented by creationists to confuse the issue, and they have deliberately left it undefined in order to prevent anyone from answering them on their turf. Commented May 10, 2017 at 21:50

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