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Evolution: Take Two

Eric Gaucher and Betül Arslan at the Georgia Institute of Technology are trying to determine whether a 500 million-year-old bacterial gene will evolve the same way twice, given the chance to start over, says New Scientist's Bob Holmes. The researchers are working with a gene called EF-Tu, which plays a role in protein synthesis in E. coli. Gaucher had previously estimated the gene's age, and Arslan has now synthesized the gene in its ancient form, inserted it into modern E. coli colonies, and let the bacteria evolve, Holmes says. "When Arslan sequenced their genomes, though, she found that EF-Tu was unchanged, Holmes adds. What had evolved — differently in each lineage — were the genes that interact with EF-Tu." The experiment will continue, so the researchers can determine whether EF-Tu itself will evolve the same way it did 500 million years ago. "The experiment may help biologists understand the extent to which evolution is predictable," Holmes says.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.