Biologists at Georgia Tech have presented some fascinating results at the Nasa International Astrobiology Science Conference as reported on http://www.wired.co.uk. After ‘resurrecting’ a 500-million-year-old bacterial gene and inserting it into modern Escherichia coli (E.coli) bacteria, researchers have observed the genetically engineered bacterium grow and mutate over more than 1,000 generations; this has scientists to quite literally see “evolution in action”.
An expert in paleo-experimental evolution, Betül Kaçar said of the experiment: ‘This is as close as we can get to rewinding and replaying the molecular tape of life. The ability to observe an ancient gene in a modern organism as it evolves within a modern cell allows us to see whether the evolutionary trajectory once taken will repeat itself or whether a life will adapt following a different path.”
Such experiments are so important in developing our understanding of evolutionary processes and facilitating a greater understanding of the the world around us.
To find out more about the study, and its implications, you can read the full article here: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-07/13/ancient-gene-inserted-into-e-coli