At Michigan State University, Richard Lenski has been studying evolution as part of the longest-running experiment of its kind, says Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science. Since 1998, Lenski has been breeding a dozen strains of E. coli from a common ancestor, and every day, one of his team members transfers 1 percent of the cells into a new flask to grow some more, Yong says. Lenski has already grown 50,000 generations of bacteria. Every 500 generations, the researchers take sample from the 12 strains and freeze them as a sort of evolutionary "fossil record," Yong says. They can then thaw them out and culture them again to see how they compare to their 12 ancestral strains. "Using the bacteria, Robert Woods and Jeffrey Barrick ... have shown that slow and steady can often win the evolutionary race," Yong says. "'Hare' bacteria, which initially take the lead and outperform their peers, might eventually lose out to strains with hidden potential — 'tortoise' strains that were better at evolving."
'Slow and Steady' Wins the Race
Mar 18, 2011