Evolution Makes You Different, Not Better

We like to think that evolution is directed. But, evolution is a little bit more random. The best experiment that I’ve ever seen that showcases the true nature of evolution was done by researchers at Lehigh University using this form of yeast that’s basically toxic to other yeast. Then they took this toxic yeast and stuffed it into a flask and they let it evolve for about a thousand generations.

In human years, a thousand generations is about 26,000 years, but in yeast time it’s only about a hundred days. They saw that the more evolved yeast actually lost the ability to make the toxin, and they also lost their resistance to the toxin. So then the researchers introduced the older, less evolved toxic yeast to the newer, more evolved toxic yeast, and the older yeast just straight up murdered all of the new yeast, because the older yeast was still making the toxin.

And this experiment showed that evolution just makes you different. It doesn’t necessarily make you better.

Reference: “Adaptive evolution of nontransitive fitness in yeast.” eLife 2020.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *