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ISME J. 2017 Oct;11(10):2181-2194. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2017.69. Epub 2017 May 16.

Experimental evolution and the dynamics of adaptation and genome evolution in microbial populations.

Lenski RE1,2,3.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA.
Graduate Program in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA.
BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA.


Evolution is an on-going process, and it can be studied experimentally in organisms with rapid generations. My team has maintained 12 populations of Escherichia coli in a simple laboratory environment for >25 years and 60 000 generations. We have quantified the dynamics of adaptation by natural selection, seen some of the populations diverge into stably coexisting ecotypes, described changes in the bacteria's mutation rate, observed the new ability to exploit a previously untapped carbon source, characterized the dynamics of genome evolution and used parallel evolution to identify the genetic targets of selection. I discuss what the future might hold for this particular experiment, briefly highlight some other microbial evolution experiments and suggest how the fields of experimental evolution and microbial ecology might intersect going forward.

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