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A New Step In Evolution - Comments

logicalbasedreality's Avatar Comment 1 by logicalbasedreality

Fabulous! I would love to learn what mechanism ingested the citrate.

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 06:24:00 UTC | #178588

PJG's Avatar Comment 2 by PJG

Sadly, those who deny that populations evolve are unlikely to read this - or, even if they do, will say, "it's still a bacteria".

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 06:26:00 UTC | #178589

logicalbasedreality's Avatar Comment 3 by logicalbasedreality

yes the whole micro versus macro evolution.

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 06:59:00 UTC | #178617

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 4 by rod-the-farmer

Hah. This is just too neat. Didn't someone come up with a bacterium that digests oil spills ? All you would have to do is make sure it did not escape into the wild.

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 07:00:00 UTC | #178619

Szkeptik's Avatar Comment 5 by Szkeptik

But it didn't turn into a bird so it's not evidence for evolution.

The ignorant and stupid have spoken.

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 07:17:00 UTC | #178629

terradea's Avatar Comment 6 by terradea

Fun, interesting read. I want more!

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 07:30:00 UTC | #178638

Dax's Avatar Comment 7 by Dax

So did he see the E.coli change into a Platypus? No? Then evolution is not true and by definition Creationism is. Praise the Lord!

FYI, I'm not serious. This research is pretty awesome. I know of some other groups who are performing similar experiments. I believe there's a group in Nijmegen, The Netherlands (IIRC) who's doing something like this with S. cerevisiae, a.k.a. Baker's yeast.

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 07:37:00 UTC | #178648

kraut's Avatar Comment 8 by kraut

I remember a video shown in PBS where one "ID" advocate said that is was never shown over generations of bacteria that they develop new traits.

Another one down.

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 08:32:00 UTC | #178688

jhegg's Avatar Comment 9 by jhegg

Wow! This is really incredible research. I must be a scientist if my heartrate increases when I read about an elegant and important piece of research. Or mabye it is the pavlovian response to any piece of research with the ability to metaphorically clobber a creationist into a pile of argumentative jelly.

Seriously though, this is awesome. I worked with a company for a while attempting to evolve a xylose eating Sacchromyces from bioengineered and wild type strains (Dax @ 7, I have heard about the attempt in the Netherlands as well). It isn't an easy thing to do even when you prime the pump by adding the nessecary genes and trying to optimize them through evolution. It is impressive to see how adaptable the little buggers are, even without evolving novel membrane protiens.

To see a strain evolve something so drastic is a bit magical and makes me all weak in the knees.

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 08:34:00 UTC | #178690

Tezcatlipoca's Avatar Comment 10 by Tezcatlipoca

Yahoo! Michigan State University!

To balance the scales however, I was driving by and say a mobile billboard go by that had 4000 b.s. and dinosaurs. I'm guessing it was an advert for a young earth bible camp. Still, Yahoo MSU!

edit-hahaha I can't believe I put b.s. after the 4000...b.c. it must have been subconcious

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 08:48:00 UTC | #178702

SteveN's Avatar Comment 11 by SteveN

This is sooooooo coooooool! How are the creos going to argue that all mutations are negative given such a detailed series of precise experiments, I wonder?
Ah, of course. By totally ignoring or misunderstanding the data. Silly me.

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 09:13:00 UTC | #178712

LaTomate's Avatar Comment 12 by LaTomate

I must admit I was kind of hoping he'd knock all of those flasks over in the vid.

I know, it's mean.

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 09:19:00 UTC | #178716

William1w1's Avatar Comment 13 by William1w1

To those of you who have said that the creationists will still deny macro-evolution, just tell them the story about the lizards on the island. Thirty years and they develop a new organ. At long last, when creationists complain that we do not see macro-evolution, we can point out the lizard experiment. They will finally see the flaw in their ways... Of course, they still have that bullet-proof "God is testing our faith" argument.

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 09:20:00 UTC | #178717

Partisan's Avatar Comment 14 by Partisan

This is actually very useful when arguing IDiots and their claim that micro evolution can never mean macro as genetic "information" can't increase...well, here it is, E.Coli with the ability to digest citrates where none could before. This link is going to be well used by me.

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 09:29:00 UTC | #178724

DamnDirtyApe's Avatar Comment 15 by DamnDirtyApe

Beautiful. That's the outstanding 'shoulders of giants' kind of research that really prooves things...

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 09:45:00 UTC | #178734

righton's Avatar Comment 16 by righton

They should sequence the genomes of the starting frozen E. coli and the current citrate eating E. coli then compare. Genome sequencing is getting a lot easier these days.

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 09:52:00 UTC | #178738

Henri Bergson's Avatar Comment 17 by Henri Bergson

This sounds worryingly like a possible proof for Henri Bergson's 'Creative Evolution' theory...

Mutation seems to involve as yet unknown factors, factors which science will hopefully soon discover.

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 10:24:00 UTC | #178746

King of NH's Avatar Comment 18 by King of NH

As a molecular biology major I tried this experiment with brewers yeast. Now I'm a liberal arts major. This is a dangerous experiment.

Kidding. This is great. Being able to creat speciation in a lab is a magnificent step toward understanding evolution's many twists and turns. To hell with the people who don't believe in science. This is a victory for us simply because it's the beauty of science and research leading to understanding. That might be the brewers yeast talking, though.

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 10:42:00 UTC | #178753

righton's Avatar Comment 19 by righton

Henri Bergson wrote:

"This sounds worryingly like a possible proof for Henri Bergson's 'Creative Evolution' theory..."

Can you explain why this is proof of "Creative Evolution" theory? Sounds like proof of natural selection to me.

"Mutation seems to involve as yet unknown factors, factors which science will hopefully soon discover."

Again, I dont understand where you got this? In this case it seems that copying errors that lead to the ability to import citrate can easily explain this.

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 10:56:00 UTC | #178765

darwinphish's Avatar Comment 20 by darwinphish

Hey everyone. This is a great article about the place of evolution... but these sorts of articles always remind how little we know about how life started in the first place and evolution began.

I recently started a blog about exploring the scientific theories behind the origin of life at

http://ontheorigins.blogspot.com/. It aims to bring awareness to the scientific stance on the origin of life so that IDers can't claim we don't have a good explanation.

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 10:57:00 UTC | #178766

Darwin's badger's Avatar Comment 21 by Darwin's badger

There's a cool interview with Zimmer on this weeks Skeptic's Guide to the Universe podcast.

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 11:10:00 UTC | #178772

righton's Avatar Comment 22 by righton

Henri Bergson,

Thanks for the PM. Oh, and thanks for calling me an ignoramous. I think you may have misunderstood my comment. I am interested in your response to this question.

Can you explain why this is proof of "Creative Evolution" theory?

Are you saying that this proves the vital impulse?

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 15:40:00 UTC | #178807

righton's Avatar Comment 23 by righton

Were you joking?

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 15:44:00 UTC | #178808

Goldy's Avatar Comment 24 by Goldy

Mutation seems to involve as yet unknown factors, factors which science will hopefully soon discover.

Factors in mutation? I think we know basically. Trouble with random processes, it's hard to work them out - bit like second guessing the person that doesn't walk a straight line on the pavement (I hate them!).
As it is, we know what drives the continuation of a mutation - breeders have been using that for millenia :-)

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 16:01:00 UTC | #178809

Azven's Avatar Comment 25 by Azven

As bacteria make up most of life on this planet saying "it's just another kind of bacteria" is a bit like watching a lizard evolving into a bird and saying "it's just another kind of animal".

Lenski's patience seems phenominal and well deserving of a Nobel prize for observing the evolution of a new species in a laboratory.

Evolution by NS rules!

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 04:03:00 UTC | #178944

elise97's Avatar Comment 26 by elise97

what, no crocoduck?

ha. checkmate, atheists !

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 06:01:00 UTC | #179032

Ohnhai's Avatar Comment 27 by Ohnhai

monumental. simply monumental. I doubt many people will hear of this , and fewer still will truly understand the importance of this result.

as said, 'Nobel prize' worthy.

We all know of the nylon eating bug. now such a genetic shift has been captured and recorded in the lab, unequivocally. Brtavo, and my hat is definately off to the patience of these epic explorers.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 07:39:00 UTC | #179121

happinessiseasy's Avatar Comment 28 by happinessiseasy

This may show my ignorance, but what if we could engineer bacteria that evolved not to be harmful to humans? I'm going to use a simple example because I'm a computer-scientist, not a biologist.

If there was a flesh-eating bacteria that existed, and we put it into a flask that had mostly plants, and some flesh, and kept cutting down the amount of flesh such that evolving to eat plants would make it easier to survive, then as they evolved, eventually they'd lose the ability to eat flesh, and we could introduce them into the wild, there they would have plenty of plants to eat and probably would end up dominating the original strain in number.

If this a viable idea in the future? Or should I just write a movie about it?

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 09:41:00 UTC | #179174

black wolf's Avatar Comment 29 by black wolf

happinessiseasy,
there are many plant-eating bacteria and viruses already, so the new strain would have to compete with those. The flesh-eating bacteria would still remain in nature, and not compete with the plant-eaters, so both would continue to exist. What we'd get is another danger to wildlife and humans. Imagine animals eating contaminated plants, and it turned out that the plant-eating bacteria could survive in animal digestion tracts. They would probably thrive on the food the animals take in, and possibly produce toxic substances which could kill the animals, as some bacteria species do.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 09:48:00 UTC | #179178

happinessiseasy's Avatar Comment 30 by happinessiseasy

black wolf,

And that's why I'm not in charge of anything important.

/contractor for the government
//knows more about military simulations than biology

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 13:52:00 UTC | #179316