Thursday, July 08, 2010

New Evolution Method--Borrow "Good" Genes from Bacteria

Evolutionary biologists have been saying that humans stopped evolved 10,000 years ago for so long that they started believing it, but now the evidence is in--humans are still evolving albeit by borrowing genes from friendly bacteria. Look for evolutionary biology to be overrun over the rest of the decade with new examples of recent adaptations that prove humans are still evolving. R.C.J.

Here's what the researchers say about their own work: It has been a basic principle of evolution for more than a century that plants and animals can adapt genetically in ways that help them better survive and reproduce. Now...University of Rochester biologist John Jaenike and colleagues document a clear example of a new mechanism for evolution. In previous well documented cases of evolution, traits that increase an animal’s ability to survive and reproduce are conferred by favorable genes, which the animal passes on to its offspring. Jaenike’s team has chronicled a striking example of a bacteria infecting an animal, giving the animal a reproductive advantage, and being passed from mother to children. This symbiotic relationship between host animal and bacteria gives the host animal a readymade defense against a hazard in its environment and thus has spread through the population by natural selection, the way a favorable gene would...
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