The Satanic Bacteria
October 7, 2012 9:03 AM   Subscribe

With a member of the House Committee on Science recently making headlines describing evolution as "lies straight from the pit of hell" (video), maybe it's time to meet Richard Lenski, and review one of the great evolutionary experiments of our time.

Lenski and his team have raised 55,000 generations of E. coli, the equivalent in human terms, of over a million years of evolution. These bacteria normally feed on glucose, a sugar, which is stabilized in solution by sodium citrate, not a chemical that E. coli can typically metabolize. In Lenski's lab, however, one strain has evolved to eat the citrate, not the glucose.

Because Lenski deep-freezes samples every 500 generations. They were able to track the mutations that led to this change. Science journalist Carl Zimmer has been following this work for over a decade.

Note: Paul Broun, the Republican who made the "pit of hell" comment, has both an M.D. and a chemistry degree, so he should be somewhat less scientifically illiterate than his colleague on the committee Paul Akin, so I assume his ignorance is willful. After Akin's comments on rape and pregnancy, there were calls to have him removed from the House committee. Braun deserves to be dropped as well.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll (0 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: This is kind of an awesome post about Lenski's work as the meat in a shitty-politicians-are-shitty sandwich. Maybe do this over again tomorrow without the politics? -- cortex


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