I am back in Johannesburg this week and next, working with the fossil collection at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Meanwhile, “The Long-Term Evolution Experiment (LTEE) turns 27”. Directed by Richard Lenski at Michigan State University, the LTEE maintains multiple colonies of E. coli in a constant, stable environment. Begun to answer questions about the rate of adaptation over time, the experiment has generated important new insights about the limits and patterns of evolution. In some experiments, frozen samples of past generations have been used to “rewind the tape” of evolution, ultimately showing the role of chance in adaptation as new mutations occur differently. It’s a great example of the importance of long-term support, since this relatively simple research effort has gained more and more importance over the years.
Lenski has lots of stuff worth exploring on his blog. One recent post, “Science Communication: Where Does the Problem Lie?” asks a painful question and attracts some interesting comments.