Darwinian Time

Does adaptation to an environment act as a speed bump for evolutionary change?

By Andrea Gawrylewski

Illustrations by JT Morrow

Photos by Stephen Kennedy

n a windowless room, three researchers hunker over a waist-high lab table. Dressed in white coats and latex gloves, the investigators, all members of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, get down to the business at hand: skinning frozen mice.

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Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) detection in inbred mouse strain crosses. Two inbred strains (small body size and large body size) are crossed to form the F1 progeny, which is intercrossed to form the F2 generation where the genes are recombined. QTLs from the F2 generation are then correlated to the mouse phenotype.

Of course, estimating the speed of evolution even in simple organisms is anything but simple. Viruses can evolve in a matter of generations, but, as always,...

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