- The Loom
A New Step In Evolution
One of the most important experiments in evolution is going on right now in a laboratory in Michigan State University. A dozen flasks full of E. coli are sloshing around on a gently rocking table. The bacteria in those flasks has been evolving since 1988–for over 44,000 generations. And because they’ve been so carefully observed all that time, they’ve revealed some important lessons about how evolution works.
The experiment was launched by MSU biologist Richard Lenski. I wrote about Lenski’s work last year in the New York Times, and in more detail my new book Microcosm. Lenski started off with a single microbe. It divided a few times into identical clones, from which Lenski started 12 colonies. He