Monday, January 19, 2009

Evolution: Multiple Beneficial Mutations in One Generation

The Science Examiner is reporting that out of Texas A&M is coming research indicating that evolution is more dynamic than originally thought:

Working with populations of yeast cells, which were color-coded by fluorescent markers, Katy Kao, assistant professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, and Stanford University colleague Gavin Sherlock were able to evolve the cells while maintaining a visual analysis of the entire process.

Their research, which appears in the December edition of Nature Genetics, shows the evolutionary process to be much more dynamic than initially thought, with multiple beneficial adaptations arising within a population. These adaptations, Kao explained, triggered a competition between these segments, known as “clonal interference.”

Beneficial mutations have always been thought to arise sequentially, with selection acting on each one in turn. Further, it was found that some beneficial mutations do not survive in successive generations. In hindsight, this seems reasonable since in any given generation of an organism, a wide variety of variation is present, each to be acted on independently. It is just neat to see it in action.

Hat tip to LGF.

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