Saturday, May 7, 2016

How did birds get their wings? Bacteria may provide a clue, say scientists

Scientists now believe that bacteria may give us some insight on how birds got their wings. There have been many traits developed through evolution that gives organisms chances to create new opportunities in their community. It is still debated how these changes come about genetically. A study led by the University of Oxford has looked into bacteria and found that they acquire duplicate copies of genes which can provide a “template” that would allow an organism to acquire new traits from the repeating copies of genes. The theory has been around since the 1970s however these new findings show how it is actually possible. Professor Craig MacLean, who is in the Department of Zoology at Oxford University, helped conduct the studies. They took 380 populations of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria to evolve and gain new traits, which would help them degrade new sugars in order for them to eat new food sources. After 30 days, they sequenced the genome of the bacteria and they saw that mutations mostly affected the genes that are a part of transcription and metabolism. The new trait tended to evolve through mutations in pre-existing replicated genes. These findings further prove that duplication events may be the cause of new traits and these finding may help us for further innovations. MacLean believes that this may also help us to predict the ability of harmful bacteria to evolve and obtain new traits like virulence and antibiotic resistance.

I think it’s very interesting how duplicated genes may be the reason that gives species the ability to obtain new traits that will benefit their way of living. Further understanding as to how species can have this ability would help us with research and discoveries. Being able to find to predict a bacteria becoming resilient to antibiotics would be extremely helpful. Maybe we could one day obtain the knowledge and power to be able create new traits in humans or animals that are in dire need of a new trait and can not wait thousands of years for evolution to take place.


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