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Sharing = Evolution

Researchers have long known that bacteria and archaea can alter, lose, or duplicate their genes almost at will in order to survive in a range of environments, says Scientific American's Carrie Arnold. While it's also known that bacteria can also acquire genes from their neighbors — a trait that can lead to antibiotic resistance — it was thought that this kind of horizontal gene transfer was rare and occurred only under strong environmental pressures, Arnold says.

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