Research NewsEvolution

Bacteria Diversify Through Warfare

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Science  24 Oct 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5338, pp. 575
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5338.575a

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ARNHEM, THE NETHERLANDS-- It's a civil war in there for many gut-loving bacteria, and the battles between the strains may help explain a microbial mystery: why Escherichia coli and other microbes are so genetically diverse. By one measure, E. coli is 100 times more diverse than the human population. New evidence shows that a chemical arms race could be helping to drive this genetic diversification by dividing group from group and descendants from ancestors.