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    Developing the Ability to Evolve May be Part of Evolution

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    Geo Beats

    by Geo Beats

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    Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Kentucky have published a study of how quickly certain traits can change will influence an organism’s ability to evolve over time.

    Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Kentucky have published a study that for the first time shows a particular organism’s ability to evolve quickly is itself a trait of natural selection.

    To study this, biologists looked at 12 different strains of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease and how it responds to the immune system it has infected by changing its DNA.

    B. burgdorferi bacteria has unused DNA called cassettes that can be used to change quickly and adapt to survive the immune system of its host.

    Results of the study show that the bacteria’s cassettes can be selected for alternation during infections as well as during reproduction to create future generations with unused DNA.

    The authors of the study wrote: “These findings provide a direct demonstration that molecular mechanisms that enhance evolvability of surface antigens are an evolutionary adaptation. The molecular evolutionary processes identified here can serve as a model for the evolution of antigenic evolvability in many pathogens which utilize similar strategies to establish chronic infections.”

    This kind of adaptability doesn’t happen in animal, plant or fungi organisms because their cells aren’t connected to traits that dictate their survival.

    What do you think about the results of the study?