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The Beagle in a bottle

Nature volume 457, pages 824829 (12 February 2009) | Download Citation

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Abstract

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 studying microbial evolution for its own sake under the most natural conditions possible in the test tube, and testing some qualitative theories of genome evolution.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the Royal Society and the Leverhulme Trust for funding.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK.

    • Angus Buckling
    •  & R. Craig Maclean
  2. School of Biological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 7ZB, UK.

    • Michael A. Brockhurst
  3. School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, UK.

    • Nick Colegrave

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Reprints and permissions information is available at http://www.nature.com/reprints.

Correspondence should be addressed to A.B. (angus.buckling@zoo.ox.ac.uk).

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07892

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