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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2011 Aug;22(4):595-600. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2011.03.006. Epub 2011 Apr 12.

The role of cellular objectives and selective pressures in metabolic pathway evolution.

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Department of Bioengineering, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.


Evolution results from molecular-level changes in an organism, thereby producing novel phenotypes and, eventually novel species. However, changes in a single gene can lead to significant changes in biomolecular networks through the gain and loss of many molecular interactions. Thus, significant insights into microbial evolution have been gained through the analysis and comparison of reconstructed metabolic networks. However, challenges remain from reconstruction incompleteness and the inability to experiment with evolution on the timescale necessary for new species to arise. Despite these challenges, experimental laboratory evolution of microbes has provided some insights into the cellular objectives underlying evolution, under the constraints of nutrient availability and the use of mechanisms that protect cells from extreme conditions.

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