The Beagle in a bottle

  title={The Beagle in a bottle},
  author={Angus Buckling and R. Craig MacLean and Michael A. Brockhurst and Nick Colegrave},
Why infer evolution when you can watch it happen in real time? This is the basic premise of using populations of fast-replicating microorganisms in test tubes to study evolution. The approach, known as experimental evolution, has provided a way of testing many of the key hypotheses that arose from the modern evolutionary synthesis. However, details of the unnatural histories of microorganisms in test tubes can be extrapolated only so far. Potential future directions for the approach include… 
Experimental evolution and the dynamics of adaptation and genome evolution in microbial populations
What the future might hold for this particular experiment is discussed, some other microbial evolution experiments are briefly highlighted, and how the fields of experimental evolution and microbial ecology might intersect going forward are suggested.
Experimental macroevolution†
  • G. Bell
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2016
The convergence of several disparate research programmes raises the possibility that the long-term evolutionary processes of innovation and radiation may become amenable to laboratory experimentation and be capable of illuminating the processes responsible for the evolution of new kinds of organisms.
The rule of declining adaptability in microbial evolution experiments
It is shown that, despite large differences in the origin of the data, a pattern of inverse dependence of adaptability with fitness clearly emerges, giving rise to the exciting prospect that evolution might be statistically predictable at the macroscopic level.
Next‐generation sequencing as a tool to study microbial evolution
Advances in whole‐genome sequencing are being used to accurately estimate the rates of mutation, reveal the genetic targets and dynamics of natural selection, uncover the correlation (or lack thereof) between genetic and phenotypic change, and provide data to test long‐standing evolutionary hypotheses.
Mainstreaming Caenorhabditis elegans in experimental evolution
This work outlines this experimental evolution work undertaken so far in Caenorhabditis, detail simple methodological tricks that can be exploited and identify research areas that are ripe for future discovery.
Can the experimental evolution programme help us elucidate the genetic basis of adaptation in nature?
Important insights coming from experimental evolution are discussed, focusing on four key topics tied to the evolutionary genetics of adaptation, and within those topics, the extent to which the experimental work compliments and informs natural population studies is discussed.
Competition and Coexistence in Yeast Experimental Evolution
This thesis provides one of the few empirical examples in which the evolution and mechanism of some of these complexities have been characterized and modeled sufficiently to make basic predictions, such as whether a mutation will fix or go extinct, and which competing lineages may or may not coexist.
Biochemistry and evolutionary biology: Two disciplines that need each other
Courses of biochemistry should pay attention to the essential role of evolution in selecting the molecules of life, as it allows understanding of the mechanisms that make evolution possible.


Microbial genetics: Evolution experiments with microorganisms: the dynamics and genetic bases of adaptation
The dynamics of evolutionary adaptation, the genetic bases of adaptation, tradeoffs and the environmental specificity of adaptation are examined, the origin and evolutionary consequences of mutators, and the process of drift decay in very small populations are examined.
Tests of parallel molecular evolution in a long-term experiment with Escherichia coli.
Tests of four different statistical aspects of the pattern of molecular evolution all indicate that adaptation by natural selection drove the parallel changes in these candidate genes.
Role of mutator alleles in adaptive evolution
Whether high mutation rates might play an important role in adaptive evolution is considered, as models of large, asexual, clonal populations adapting to a new environment show that strong mutator genes can accelerate adaptation, even if the mutator gene remains at a very low frequency.
Dynamics of adaptation and diversification: a 10,000-generation experiment with bacterial populations.
  • R. Lenski, M. Travisano
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1994
The results support a Wrightian interpretation, in which chance events (mutation and drift) play an important role in adaptive evolution, as do the complex genetic interactions that underlie the structure of organisms.
Experimental evolution of aging in a bacterium
The results confirm that late-acting deleterious mutations do occur in bacteria and that they can invade populations when selection late in life is weak and suggest that aging is probably a fundamental property of all cellular organisms.
Different trajectories of parallel evolution during viral adaptation.
Experimental evolution of two bacteriophage lines under strong selection led to over a dozen nucleotide changes genomewide in each replicate, but the order of these changes differed between replicates, and parallel substitutions did not reflect the changes with the largest beneficial effects or indicate a common trajectory of adaptation.
The rise and fall of mutator bacteria.
Long‐Term Experimental Evolution in Escherichia coli. VIII. Dynamics of a Balanced Polymorphism
The short‐ and long‐term dynamics of a phenotypic polymorphism that arose in a population of Escherichia coli while it was serially propagated for almost 20,000 generations in a glucose‐limited minimal medium are described and several hypotheses that may explain the fluctuations in this balanced polymorphism are offered.
Costs and Benefits of High Mutation Rates: Adaptive Evolution of Bacteria in the Mouse Gut
We have shown that bacterial mutation rates change during the experimental colonization of the mouse gut. A high mutation rate was initially beneficial because it allowed faster adaptation, but this
Punctuated Evolution Caused by Selection of Rare Beneficial Mutations
A clear and unambiguous case of punctuated evolution is presented for cell size in a population of Escherichia coli evolving for 3000 generations in a constant environment.