Monday, 25 November 2013

Beneficial mutations still occurring in Lenski's long-running experiment

I'm a little busy with InNoWriMo these days but I had to leave a short note about Richard Lenski's bacterial evolution experiment which has been running since 1988.
Panda's Thumb
Ars Technica
Lenski's own blog.

From the Ars Technica link:
In 1988, Richard Lenski's lab started an experiment—50,000 generations of bacteria later, the experiment is still going. Lenski has watched the bacteria evolve to compensate for the stresses of harsh culture conditions, and he's been able to track the exact changes that allow them to do so. In the process, Lenski's learned a few things about the nature of evolution itself.

In his latest progress report on the bacteria, the lab set up a competition, pitting bacteria that had been adapting for different periods of time against each other. He found that those at the 50,000 generation mark not only beat the ones at 10,000 generations, but these bacteria also come out ahead of the ones at 40,000. The continual improvements suggest that, when it comes to fitness, these bacteria are nowhere close to reaching a point where improvement levels off.

In early November, I went to a Free Methodist church in Barrie, Ontario and heard a talk about creationism.  The speaker was summarizing things Carl Weiland had said (and maybe more -I don't know if Weiland covered this specific subject) and one thing he claimed was that evolutionists claim 100% of all species today are in stasis -that is, no evolutionary change is being observed today.  From the Panda's Thumb link - which is quoting a gated article in Science:
Most recently, the colonies have demonstrated that, contrary to what many biologists thought, evolution never comes to a stop, even in an unchanging environment.

I don't know any scientists that think evolution comes to a stop but there it is.  I don't know what that means.