Time in a Bottle - Scientists Watch Evolution Unfold

Published on Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"Time in a Bottle: Scientists Watch Evolution Unfold" is an article that appeared in "Science News" on October 19, 2009. My attention was drawn to it because the researcher, Professor Richard Lenski, Michigan State University, was interviewed in a column in the Toronto newspaper, The Globe & Mail. The interview appeared on Saturday, November 21.

I have lifted excerpts from the original article to share with you....

Lenski started growing cultures of fast-reproducing, single-celled E. coli bacteria in 1988. If a genetic mutation gives a cell an advantage in competition for food, he reasoned, it should dominate the entire culture. While Darwin's theory of natural selection is supported by other studies, it has never before been studied for so many cycles and in such detail.

"It's extra nice now to be able to show precisely how selection has changed the genomes of these bacteria, step by step over tens of thousands of generations," Lenski said.

"By the 20,000-generation midpoint, researchers discovered 45 mutations among surviving cells. Those mutations, according to Darwin's theory, should have conferred some advantage, and that's exactly what the researchers found.

"The results "beautifully emphasize the succession of mutational events that allowed these organisms to climb toward higher and higher efficiency in their environment," noted Dominique Schneider, a molecular geneticist at the Université Joseph Fourier in Grenoble, France."

It is valuable to see hard evidence of the principles described originally by Darwin and Wallace 150 years ago.

We are at a point where the debate should change from evolution as theory to evolution as irrefutable fact regardless of whether you are a Deist or not.

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