From the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology comes a press release describing a paper in Nature about bacterial evolution…

Bacteria Expect the Unexpected
Organisms ensure the survival of their species by genetically adapting to the environment. If environmental conditions change too rapidly, the extinction of a species may be the consequence. A strategy to successfully cope with such a challenge is the generation of variable offspring that can survive in different environments. Even though a portion of the offspring may have a decreased chance to survive, the survival of the species as a whole is guaranteed. For the first time scientists have now observed the evolution of such a strategy under lab conditions in an experiment with the bacterial species Pseudomonas fluorescens: A bacterial strain exposed to rapidly changing environmental conditions developed the ability to generate variable offspring without additional mutations. This new strategy ensured the survival of the bacterial strain. The results were published in NATURE. (05.11.2009).


4 thoughts on “Pfffffffffft!

  1. Is it that you don’t like the overtones of group selection in the press release? Have you read the article? It actually is quite a significant finding and even made the cover of _Nature_. Basically it is experimental support of the theoretical concept of “bet hedging” in bacteria. What is fascinating it is shows that the standard idea of evolution leading to a “most fit” phenotype isn’t necessarily true. Unless plasticity is considered a phenotype, I suppose…

    • “Overtones of group selection”, “Fundamentally and deeply mistaken description of natural selection”, Tomayto, Tomahto…

      (And yes, plasticity is a phenotype that can evolve — not too surprising)

Comments are closed.