Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Bacteria: A Gift to Science or a Curse?
Bacteria have the ability to adapt to new environments relatively rapidly because adaptations occur over many generations, but some bacteria replicate as often as every 20 minutes. As a result, within just a few days, bacteria can go through hundreds, if not thousands, of generations. This makes them prime candidates to undergo lab simulated evolution to help us get a better understanding of evolution and survival. On page 128, Coyne describes how bacteria can quickly adapt to simple hazardous environments. Quite surprisingly, he also goes on to show how they can adapt to more complex situations in the example of Barry Hall's experiment with E. coli and lactose. Explain Dr. Hall's experiment and why it is so significant in the debate of evolution versus intelligent design. Provide another example of a species which was introduced into a similar situation and modified its current genes to survive. However, this rapid adaptation to bacteria has costly effects such as their rapid immunization to antibiotics. Expand Coyne's statement of simple adaptations of bacteria in labs to explain how bacteria become immune. Give an example of a bacteria that, through adaptations, has become immune. Does the benefit of medicine outweigh the threat of evolving a more deadly bacteria?