Categories: Daily Human DigestAncestry & Evolution

Ancestral gene resurrection: Re-creating evolution by engineering an ‘instant replay switch’

| | March 8, 2018

A team of scientists from the University of Arizona have engineered an instant replay switch for evolution. The technique, known as ancestral gene resurrection, inserts ancient genes into modern E. coli bacteria. It gives researchers the opportunity to watch evolution unfold again and again, providing insights into how life evolved on early Earth, and what it might potentially look like on other planets.

“Organisms can function just fine even when they’ve been engineered with an essential gene that is over 700 million years old,” [says] the study’s lead author Betül Kaçar, an astrobiologist at the University of Arizona.

If you could rewind time and let evolution happen all over again, would the end result resemble life on Earth as we know it?

Kaçar worked with her postdoctoral advisor Eric Gaucher at Georgia Tech on a NASA-funded project to replay evolution again and again with the laboratory workhorse bacterium E. coli. Kaçar wouldn’t be evolving E. coli from scratch, but rather rewinding the evolution of a specific key protein that the bacteria needed to survive.

The importance of this work, Kaçar says, isn’t just relevant to life on this planet. Knowing how life is or isn’t constrained by its starting materials could tell scientists a lot about what life might look like on other planets.

Editor’s note: Read the full study

Read full, original post: What happens when you put evolution on replay?

Articles written by GLP cite ‘Genetic Literacy Project’ as the source. All others are aggregated and excerpted from the original source to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis.
Share
Published by
Anne Nesathurai

Recent Articles

Is there a link between food allergies and autism?

A new study from researchers at the University of Iowa reveals a link between food allergies and autism, though many…

47 mins ago

After Bayer-Monsanto merger, will ‘big ag’ invest in big data?

The merger has been a laboured one: in order to please regulators, Bayer had to sell its seed and herbicide…

47 mins ago

Viewpoint: Pesticide bans and restrictions can have unwanted side-effects

Glyphosate, neonicotinoids, drinking water initiative – renouncing pesticides is currently the subject of fierce discussion. For while on the one…

47 mins ago

What can we learn about ourselves from studying the way animals communicate?

If you listen closely to the sound of birds chirping, you’ll hear that they’re taking turns. The same goes for…

47 mins ago

Why are so many people skeptical of GMOs?

[W]hy are so many people highly sceptical of GMOs? One reason could be non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Although they are perceived…

48 mins ago

Viewpoint: Science hype doomed startup that promised to upload brains ‘to the cloud’

This past March, headlines suddenly flooded the Internet about a startup company called Nectome. Founded by two graduates of the…

49 mins ago

Could the rise of New Breeding Techniques like CRISPR soften opposition to crop biotechnology?

“Mother Nature” is changing quickly and this requires the adoption of technology-driven solutions that will help both growers and consumers,…

49 mins ago

Using CRISPR to build a ‘massive library’ of tools to cure genetic disease

In the past few years, [David] Liu’s become one of the most brightly-shining luminaries in the rapidly advancing field of gene…

50 mins ago

Are biosimilar drugs reliable replacements for their pricier counterparts?

Biologics are complex molecules, modifying our immune responses to specific chronic inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or irritable…

51 mins ago

Video: Can blight-resistant GMO trees save the American Chestnut?

The American Chestnut tree used to be a staple in American forests until it essentially became extinct due to blight.…

51 mins ago

DNA spit test for prostate cancer risk?

A new DNA "spit test" for prostate cancer can identify men who have an increased risk of developing the disease.…

51 mins ago

California agency rejects Proper 65, sets aside ruling requiring that coffee carry a cancer warning

On [June 15th], the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) proposed a regulation that would exempt coffee from requiring…

52 mins ago

If DNA can predict facial construction, how can we ever have genetic privacy?

DNA can now predict your facial structure. What does that mean for personal privacy?

52 mins ago

Viewpoint: EU’s neonicotinoid ban is a ‘scientific fraud’ and won’t protect bees

Five years after the European Union imposed a temporary ban on neonicotinoid pesticides, an “experts committee” of the member states…

53 mins ago

Viewpoint: Regulatory hurdles, anti-GMO activists stymie adoption of sustainable crop biotechnology innovations in developing world

Ever-more powerful genetic technologies, such as genome-editing endonucleases and marker-assisted breeding, continue to facilitate the development of genetically modified (GM)…

23 hours ago