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Evolving Bacteria Can Evade Barriers to ‘Peak’ Fitness
Paradoxically, natural selection can sometimes seem to block organisms from evolving useful adaptations. But a new study of “fitness landscapes” and antibiotic resistance in bacteria shows that life still finds a way.
Andreas Wagner Pursues the Secrets to Evolutionary Success
Why did mammals, grasses and some other groups of organisms explode in diversity only after millions of years? The evolutionary biologist Andreas Wagner plumbs the secrets of those “sleeping beauties.”
Even Synthetic Life Forms With a Tiny Genome Can Evolve
By watching “minimal” cells regain the fitness they lost, researchers are testing whether a genome can be too simple to evolve.
Global Microbiome Study Gives New View of Shared Health Risks
The most comprehensive survey of how we share our microbiomes suggests a new way of thinking about the risks of developing some diseases that aren’t usually considered contagious.
Mobile Genes From the Mother Shape the Baby’s Microbiome
Tiny genetic sequences in a mother’s bacteria seem to hop into the infant’s bacteria, perhaps ensuring a healthy microbiome later in life.
The Gut Microbiome Helps Social Skills Develop in the Brain
New research in fish suggests that gut microbes can have a crucial early influence on the brain’s social development.
Ocean Bacteria Reveal an Unexpected Multicellular Form
Marine bacteria normally seen as single cells join together as a “microscopic snow globe” to consume bulky floating carbohydrates.
How Genes Can Leap From Snakes to Frogs in Madagascar
The discovery of a hot spot for horizontal gene transfer draws attention to the possible roles of parasites and ecology in such changes.