Evolution All Leads to the Same Place

#Science

Fri, Sep 12th, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Quanta Magazine brings to attention the work of Michael Desay who, in his lab at Harvard University, is growing hundreds of generations of separate strains of baker's yeast. His goal, to find out if life would evolve the same way if the world was to start over again.

[...] According to results published in Science in June, all of Desai’s yeast varieties arrived at roughly the same evolutionary endpoint (as measured by their ability to grow under specific lab conditions) regardless of which precise genetic path each strain took. It’s as if 100 New York City taxis agreed to take separate highways in a race to the Pacific Ocean, and 50 hours later they all converged at the Santa Monica pier.

The findings also suggest a disconnect between evolution at the genetic level and at the level of the whole organism. Genetic mutations occur mostly at random, yet the sum of these aimless changes somehow creates a predictable pattern. [...]

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