Research NewsEvolution

Biodiversity in a Vial of Sugar Water

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Science  17 Oct 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5337, pp. 390
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5337.390a

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ARNHEM, THE NETHERLANDS-- At the recent meeting of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology here, researchers described how microbes living in a vial full of nutrient broth can form a rainforest in miniature, quickly diversifying into a range of new forms. While the diversity is nothing like the dizzying array of forms that emerged from, say, the Cambrian explosion half a billion years ago, it does bear some of the hallmarks of such macroevolutionary events, which means that evolutionary biologists can study these miniature adaptive radiations for clues to what drives them in nature.