In evolution, last really can be first

Bacteria experiments show how underdogs can end up on top

By Tina Hesman Saey, 15:09 PM March 17, 2011

In an evolutionary equivalent of Revenge of the Nerds, bacteria that once seemed destined for loserdom can eventually use their hidden potential to overtake the competition.

Researchers led by Richard Lenski of Michigan State University in East Lansing have been watching E. coli bacteria evolve since 1988 (over more than 50,000 generations) and are doing experiments that replay that evolution to settle a debate about whether natural selection produces the same outcome every time or if surp...

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