News FocusEvolutionary Biology

Evolutionary Time Travel

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Science  18 Nov 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6058, pp. 893-895
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6058.893

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Researchers have been probing how evolution happens, by forcing it to occur, under controlled conditions, while they watch. This type of research, known as experimental evolution, has risen in popularity over the past few decades. At this summer's 13th Congress of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology, it was clear that the field of experimental evolution has itself evolved. Biologists today conduct controlled evolution studies with everything from viruses to fish. Many are trying to address complex questions such as how evolution fashions major changes in a creature's lifestyle. One team at the Germany meeting reported tackling how sex evolves, for example, whereas another examined how an alga deals with losing access to light, its main source of energy.