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Plant Galls, Evolution, and Intelligent Design

Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig
Agamous generation of red-pea gall of gall wasp Cynips divisa on oak leaf. Photograph by W-E L (14 June 2020 in Cologne).

In The Origin of Species (1859, 201), Charles Darwin suggested the following test, among others, for his theory: 

If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species, it would annihilate my theory for such could not have been produced through natural selection.

Now, there are thousands of different plant galls triggered correspondingly by thousands of different insect (and other) species showing, indeed, that “part of the structure of … one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species.”

Getting to Know Plant Galls

But perhaps I should first answer the question: What is a plant gall? 

A gall is a manifestation of the reprogramming of plant cellular growth and/or development … that begins at the colonization site of a specific foreign organism, which receives specialized services from the plant and continues to interact with the de novo plant tissue or organ as it develops and matures. 

Harris and Pitzschke 20201

Or again:

Plant galls represent a unique and complex inter-specific [as well as inter-kingdom] interaction between the inducer organism and the host plant. Insect galls are one such curious wonders of nature that attracts the attention of many naturalists. Galls are … developed cells that have proliferated in a region of the plant, causing an external swelling or modification of the plant as a result of a parasitic organism. 

Sahu et al. 20202

Joachim Illies, former Director at the Max-Planck-Institute for Limnology, Plön, Außenstelle Schlitz, Professor at the Universities of Gießen and Kiel, has commented on this phenomenon: 

For the plant, the entire effort involved in the gall formation is of no apparent benefit, it is more of a harm because it requires nutrients, reduces the assimilating leaf area and disrupts the normal course of growth, sometimes even the most valuable parts of the plants: buds and seeds. Consequently, according to Darwin, the plants without galls should have an advantage over those with galls, and so in the course of evolution the gall-free variants among the plants should have been chosen very soon and everywhere as the fittest ones… [which is not the case].3

Illies goes on to discuss the attempted solutions given so far by neo-Darwinians known to him, and he proves them wrong.

A Basic Question for Evolutionary Theory

Additionally, more than a hundred years ago, zoologist Otto Braun and philosopher Erich Becher formulated the basic question for all selection theories. Because of the many discoveries made in the interim, their formulation remains up-to-date for any discussion on the origin of species by natural selection today. They asked:

But how are we to understand the appearance of entirely new formations that are completely absent from normal host plants? How did the plants achieve potentials for totally new structures [exclusively] serving other beings? Can the principle of selection help us? No, it fails completely — for how can a selection for altruistic potentials arise?

In two articles I have focused on the attempts of Darwinists up to now to explain the gall phenomenon by natural selection. They all fail miserably.

The interested reader is invited to see first the following new article: Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig (2020), “Plant Galls and Evolution (II): Natural Selection, DNA, and Intelligent Design.” As indicated there, I offer proof that the complex structures of thousands of species have been formed for the exclusive good of other species, thus annihilating Darwin’s theory. 

In addition, the reader may see an earlier article, from 2017: “Plant Galls and Evolution (I).” There, again as indicated in the article’s subtitle, I show how more than 12,000 ugly facts are slaying Darwin’s beautiful hypothesis. Also of interest is a post at Evolution News, by Granville Sewell, “With Plant Galls, Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig Falsifies Darwinism.”


  1. https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/nph.16340
  2. http://www.entomoljournal.com/archives/2020/vol8issue2/PartV/8-2-203-718.pdf
  3. Illies, J. : Gallenbitteris Ärgernis. Natur — Horst Sterns Umweltmagazin, Juni 1981 Nr 6: 42-47.