At Not Exactly Rocket Science, Ed Yong reports on a new study in PLoS Biology on how microbes evolve. A team of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers studied the Sulfolobus islandicus archaeon — a species living in the Mutnovsky volcano in eastern Russia. They found that the species had split into two lineages. But while they do trade genes, the lineages are growing increasingly distant, Yong says. "[Researcher Rachel] Whitaker collected 12 strains of S. islandicus from one of the Mutnovsky springs, sequenced their complete genomes and charted their evolutionary relationships," he adds. "They were remarkably similar. At most, any two strains differed in just 0.35 percent of their genome — far less than the distance between your DNA and a chimp's."
Plugging the Leak
Feb 24, 2012