experimental evolution

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Microbes Fly Overhead in This Year’s Solar Eclipse

When the sun vanishes behind the moon, living organisms behave as if twilight is here. Crickets start to chirp, flowers close up, and cows head to the barn.  In this year’s highly anticipated solar eclipse, microbes will also fly high in the sky on giant balloons as part of a citizen science project called the Eclipse Ballooning Project.

The Eclipse Ballooning Project harnesses the scientific curiosities of 55 teams across universities, high schools, and ballooning groups. These citizen scientists will capture footage along the path of totality across the Unites States. This will be the first time videos and images of a total eclipse will be documented live from near space. (more…)

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Solving the plasmid paradox: evolutionary advantages of multicopy plasmids

Today marks the end of 2016's World Antibiotic Awareness Week, aimed to increase awareness of antibiotic resistance and to advocate for the prudent use of these drugs.

One of the key drivers of antibiotic resistance is how rapidly bacteria acquire DNA from the environment or from other bacteria. Resistance elements are often carried on mobile elements, DNA that can move around the genome or be transferred to other genomes. The almost universal rapid assimilation of DNA by bacteria leads to the acquisition of multiple antibiotic resistance genes in a variety of bacterial species. One such example of a DNA mobile element is the plasmid, small circular DNA that replicates independently of the chromosome and can be transferred from bacterium to bacterium during cell division, transformation, and conjugation. (more…)