Researchers for the first time have tracked the specific genetic mutations -- occurring over just a few generations -- that allow bacteria to respond to environmental changes, they report online in Nature today (November 4).
"We showed how evolution happens in real time," said linkurl:Hubertus Beaumont,;http://www.biomedexperts.com/Profile.bme/94433/Hubertus_J_E_Beaumont a biologist from Leiden University in the Netherlands and first author on the study. Studies have shown bacteria and other organisms can switch back and forth between phenotypes to better survive in new environments. For instance, Beaumont said, many bacteria switch their surface antigens when invading a host, so they can avoid being attacked, and certain desert plants are programmed to germinate seeds at random time intervals, increasing their chances of encountering rain. "This bet-hedging strategy is very simple, but captures the essence of evolution." Beaumont said. "Natural selection in these uncertain environments causes an...
Image: Courtesy of Hubertus Beaumont
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