Although Darwin’s ideas have clearly triumphed in modern biology, hints of a more Lamarckian style of inheritance have continued to surface. Experiments by Susan Rosenberg, of Baylor University, were inspired by a controversial study from the late 1980s that suggested bacteria could somehow direct their evolution, “choosing which mutations will occur,” the authors wrote — a modern molecular biologist’s version of Lamarckian theory.
Rosenberg’s results, published in 1997, disputed those findings, with a twist. Rather than targeting specific traits, as Lamarck’s theory would have predicted, the mutations struck random genes, with some good outcomes and some bad. However, the process wasn’t completely random. Rosenberg’s findings suggested that bacteria were capable of increasing their mutation rates, which might in turn produce strains capable of surviving new conditions.
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