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What We’ve Learned about Evolution from the LTEE: Number 4

This page is part of a series of posts about what we’ve learned from the LTEE. You can view the original version on Telliamed Revisited.

Evolution of Novelty

The LTEE provides fascinating cases of the origin and evolution of a new function and complex ecological interactions.

These examples are particularly interesting—and surprising—because I chose the environment of the LTEE to be as simple as possible, thereby limiting the opportunity for novel functions and complex ecologies to emerge.  However, the evolving bacteria have proven me wrong by discovering new ways of making a living in the simple flask worlds where they live.

Novel function

Complex ecology

This photo shows the increased turbidity (cell density) of the population that evolved the ability to use citrate in the middle, along with two others from the LTEE.  Brian Baer and Neerja Hajela took this picture in my lab in 2008.

LTEE Flasks Centered on Citrate. (Photo credit: Brian Baer)