Thursday, January 19, 2012

Early Evolutionary Step Replicated

This from Science Daily: a story where an early evolutionary step in which single-celled organisms began to band together to form mats and communities is replicated. The author writes:

It all started about two years ago with a casual comment over coffee that bridging the famous multi-cellularity gap would be "just about the coolest thing we could do," recall postdoctoral researcher Will Ratcliff and associate professor Michael Travisano, both from the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior.

So they decided to give it a try. Then came the big surprise. It wasn't actually that difficult. Using yeast cells, culture media and a centrifuge, it only took them one experiment conducted over about 60 days, says Travisano, who is senior author on the PNAS paper.

"I don't think anyone had ever tried it before," says lead author Ratcliff. "There aren't many scientists doing experimental evolution, and they're trying to answer questions about evolution, not recreate it."

Although this doesn't answer all of the questions about how early life evolved, it answers some important ones.

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