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500-Million-Year-Old Gene May Show if Evolution Can Repeat Itself




Biologists have long wondered whether life would evolve the same way again if we could rewind Earth's tape. Eric Gaucher and Betül Arslan at Georgia Tech University in Atlanta synthesised an ancient gene --EF-Tu, a gene in Escherichia coli, that plays a crucial role in protein synthesis-- and inserted it into E. coli in place of the modern version. Gaucher had previously worked out what this gene's DNA sequence must have been 500 million years ago.

The bacteria with the old gene grew less than half as fast as usual. Arslan then let eight bacterial lines evolve independently for 1000 generations. The experiment may help biologists understand the extent to which evolution is predictable.

All eight lineages eventually grew faster - a sign that evolution had occurred. When Arslan sequenced their genomes, though, she found that EF-Tu was unchanged. What had evolved - differently in each lineage - were the genes that interact with EF-Tu, she announced at NASA's Astrobiology Science Conference 2012 in Atlanta.

The sheer number of interacting genes in protein synthesis means that random mutations are more likely to hit one of EF-Tu's partners than EF-Tu itself. Eventually, though, EF-Tu may begin to evolve - either following the same path it began 500 million years ago or not. We'll have to wait for the final results.

Daily Galaxy via

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The Random mutation/selection scenario should be abandoned. It is not Darwinism, and neglects an essential characteristic -interdependence and cooperation. It is intuitively obvious that Societies, Communities and Environment shape eachother. Making it habitable and beautiful for everyone.

It will not repeat itself. Evolution is based on factors and stresses within the environment of a species and changes in that environment over time. Unless the experimenters recreate the environment as it was 500 mya (million years ago) then I would not expect DNA to evolve in the same manner. But perhaps at the level of bacteria the environmental considerations are not as important, especially considering asexual reproduction of bacteria. So maybe they will see expected result. Will be interesting to see what happens here.

Yes everything that has life change. You're blind if you can't see that humans are getting bigger and stronger as a race? Something so simple as the flu, enviromental changes, cancers and diseases are earths defense mechanism to get rid of things? If you're born on earth in this same environment why does the sun burn your skin? Why is there a cancer called melanoma thats not likely for a for a dominated melanated being? All animal, plants, and life has melanin and need sun light to receive melatonin and vital things from the sun to exist. Technology is changes us NOW!!! Contact lens, pace makers, monitors, not to mention stem cells which replicates any cell in the body that's changes life DNA hold memory and from observation history repeats itself and that's shown in the human race...15 years ago there no 8 yrs old or poor person with a mobile phone and now look....???? Come on people isnt the human race supose to be the most intelligent animal on earth or ever in the galaxy and superior toe to everything???? Give me a break -_- and wake up o_o

Humans are getting bigger but the evidence is that we are comparatively weaker than our forbears, slower and less athletic. I am not talking about trained olympians here... rather, populations more generally.

Our forbears as in? Human species are a hybrid race... one reason we got weaker simply cause we rely on technology.

Yes Kawtious fair enough. But I am talking about even our most recent forbears, great-grandma and pa etc. Life-style factors are indeed the issue. We are not as tough and in many respects are less skilled than they were [at their peak]. We do however, live longer and grow taller etc.

The Neanderthal components of our lineage were certainly very robust as well as being notably large-brained. How common or universal this hybridity might be, is open to to debate.

On the same subject Kawtious, you will of course already know that other [independently evolving] branches of the human family, like Homo Floresiensis [known as hobbit-people because of their tiny size] were still existing as recently as perhaps five to ten thousand years ago.

What is a dominated melanated being? and why are our toes superior?

Did no one pay attention to what happened in Jurassic Park? This is the first step to T-Rex rampaging through San Diego!

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