Darwin Under The Microscope: Microbe Evolution

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In the article “Darwin Under the Microscope: Witnessing Evolution in Microbes” the author Carl Zimmer describes the transformation of the study of experimental evolution from the times of Darwin to the experiments that are still ongoing today, as well as how microbes have allowed researchers to observe natural selection and evolution within the lab. When Charles Darwin wrote his famous book The Origin of Species, he believed that natural selection would take too long to be studied within a lifetime. However, that has now changed with the use of microbes. The first research done on microbe evolution happened surprisingly during Darwin’s lifetime by a scientist named William Dallinger. He realized that microbes would be easier to use when trying to study evolution than using plants or animals because of their fast reproduction rate and how small they are in comparison to other possible test subjects. Dallinger created an experiment in which he tested microbes, called flagellates, in water, and then slowly raised the temperature of the water over a few months. Through this he discovered that the flagellates had been able to evolve resistance to the hotter water, and sent his work to Darwin. However this new type of experimental evolution didn’t continue to make strides for almost hundred years because of the limited information of this time. Microbe evolution wasn’t tested again until a…show more content…
Specifically researching microbe evolution has allowed important functions of genes to be discovered. By using evolution as a guide, genetic engineers are able to make new insights about how genes function leading to more practical benefits from microbe research. The study of microbe evolution has lead to and should continue to lead to many more discoveries in study of
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