Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Scientists place 500-million-year-old gene in modern organism (Ruh-Roh!)
Phys.org ^ | 11 July 2012 | Provided by Georgia Institute of Technology

Posted on 07/11/2012 1:21:48 PM PDT by Red Badger

It's a project 500 million years in the making. Only this time, instead of playing on a movie screen in Jurassic Park, it's happening in a lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Using a process called paleo-experimental evolution, Georgia Tech researchers have resurrected a 500-million-year-old gene from bacteria and inserted it into modern-day Escherichia coli(E. coli) bacteria. This bacterium has now been growing for more than 1,000 generations, giving the scientists a front row seat to observe evolution in action.

"This is as close as we can get to rewinding and replaying the molecular tape of life," said scientist Betül Kaçar, a NASA astrobiology postdoctoral fellow in Georgia Tech's NASA Center for Ribosomal Origins and Evolution. "The ability to observe an ancient gene in a modern organism as it evolves within a modern cell allows us to see whether the evolutionary trajectory once taken will repeat itself or whether a life will adapt following a different path."

In 2008, Kaçar's postdoctoral advisor, Associate Professor of Biology Eric Gaucher, successfully determined the ancient genetic sequence of Elongation Factor-Tu (EF-Tu), an essential protein in E. coli. EFs are one of the most abundant proteins in bacteria, found in all known cellular life and required for bacteria to survive. That vital role made it a perfect protein for the scientists to answer questions about evolution.

After achieving the difficult task of placing the ancient gene in the correct chromosomal order and position in place of the modern gene within E. coli, Kaçar produced eight identical bacterial strains and allowed "ancient life" to re-evolve. This chimeric bacteria composed of both modern and ancient genes survived, but grew about two times slower than its counterpart composed of only modern genes.

"The altered organism wasn't as healthy or fit as its modern-day version, at least initially," said Gaucher, "and this created a perfect scenario that would allow the altered organism to adapt and become more fit as it accumulated mutations with each passing day."

The growth rate eventually increased and, after the first 500 generations, the scientists sequenced the genomes of all eight lineages to determine how the bacteria adapted. Not only did the fitness levels increase to nearly modern-day levels, but also some of the altered lineages actually became healthier than their modern counterpart.

When the researchers looked closer, they noticed that every EF-Tu gene did not accumulate mutations. Instead, the modern proteins that interact with the ancient EF-Tu inside of the bacteria had mutated and these mutations were responsible for the rapid adaptation that increased the bacteria's fitness. In short, the ancient gene has not yet mutated to become more similar to its modern form, but rather, the bacteria found a new evolutionary trajectory to adapt.

These results were presented at the recent NASA International Astrobiology Science Conference. The scientists will continue to study new generations, waiting to see if the protein will follow its historical path or whether it will adopt via a novel path altogether.

"We think that this process will allow us to address several longstanding questions in evolutionary and molecular biology," said Kaçar. "Among them, we want to know if an organism's history limits its future and if evolution always leads to a single, defined point or whether evolution has multiple solutions to a given problem."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; US: Georgia
KEYWORDS: 500million; bacteria; bacteriagene; gene; godsgravesglyphs; helixmakemineadouble; madscientists
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-93 next last

Postdoctoral Fellow Betül Kaçar and Associate Professor Eric Gaucher are watching evolution in action resurrecting a 500-million-year-old gene from bacteria and inserted it into modern-day Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. Credit: Georgia Institute of Technology

Using a process called paleo-experimental evolution, Georgia Tech researchers have resurrected a 500-million-year-old gene from bacteria and inserted it into modern-day Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. This bacterium has now been growing for more than 1,000 generations, giving the scientists a front row seat to observe evolution in action. Credit: Georgia Institute of Technology

What are they thinking?..............

1 posted on 07/11/2012 1:21:54 PM PDT by Red Badger
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv; blam

Ping!..............


2 posted on 07/11/2012 1:22:39 PM PDT by Red Badger (Think logically. Act normally.................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
Wow!!! Maybe it'll turn into a tyrannosaurus Rex!!!
3 posted on 07/11/2012 1:28:15 PM PDT by ontap
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

As Malcolm said, just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should do it.


4 posted on 07/11/2012 1:29:32 PM PDT by Taffini ( Mr. Pippen and Mr. Waffles do not approve and neither do I)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Taffini

...and in an e. coli for goodness sakes............


5 posted on 07/11/2012 1:30:52 PM PDT by Red Badger (Think logically. Act normally.................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
"I'd like to be the first to welcome back our reptilian and insect overlords." Kent Brrrrrockman
6 posted on 07/11/2012 1:31:03 PM PDT by tumblindice (Sic Semper Tyrannis)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: sionnsar; abigailsmybaby; A CA Guy; airborne; Allegra; Aloysius88; Americanwolf; Anoreth; ...

Sci-Fi Nightmare may become reality ping.


7 posted on 07/11/2012 1:31:08 PM PDT by Darksheare (You will never defeat Bok Choy!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
Scientists place 500-million-year-old gene....

"Criswell predicts..."

"...a Helen Thomas picture within 10 posts....."

8 posted on 07/11/2012 1:31:58 PM PDT by massmike (The choice is clear in November: Romney or Caligula!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
Using a process called paleo-experimental evolution ...
Somehow, I get the feeling this won't end well.

9 posted on 07/11/2012 1:32:45 PM PDT by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
They were probably thinking they could learn a lot from it. And they did.

The ancient gene codes for a protein that apparently works fine - once the genes for the proteins it binds to evolved (de-evolved?) to better interact with it.

It is a very interesting finding. Not entirely unexpected -genes for proteins that interact often evolve in parallel, with a change in one that confers a temporary advantage necessitating a change in the other to better interact.

The basic premise of a sci-fi/horror movie is....

humans mess with nature
disaster results.

Like a Homer Simpson philosophy of “Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.”

10 posted on 07/11/2012 1:32:54 PM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

Fascinating,

But, but as our planet is on a death spiral due to manmade CO2, the evolution of a 500 million gene in todays atmosphere can’t prove anything.

We’re all going to die!!!!


11 posted on 07/11/2012 1:33:09 PM PDT by Noob1999 (Loose Lips, Sink Ships)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Darksheare

We are ready!


12 posted on 07/11/2012 1:33:31 PM PDT by stephenjohnbanker (God, family, country, mom, apple pie, the girl next door and a Ford F250 to pull my boat.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: allmendream
Did someone say "de-evolve"?
13 posted on 07/11/2012 1:34:49 PM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: ontap

Or worse a tyrannosaurus E Coli.

Science is amazing but sometimes SiFi doesn’t even
come close to the horror of reality.


14 posted on 07/11/2012 1:34:58 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

WHAT?????


15 posted on 07/11/2012 1:37:30 PM PDT by Monkey Face (Sometimes, I laugh so hard that tears run down my leg.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: massmike

"Would you believe TWENTY posts....?"

16 posted on 07/11/2012 1:37:43 PM PDT by massmike (The choice is clear in November: Romney or Caligula!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: allmendream

I just realized that is Chi Chi Rodriguez.


17 posted on 07/11/2012 1:38:14 PM PDT by dfwgator (FUJR (not you, Jim))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: stephenjohnbanker

This is just insane to read, isn’t it?


18 posted on 07/11/2012 1:38:39 PM PDT by Darksheare (You will never defeat Bok Choy!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
Using a process called paleo-experimental evolution, Georgia Tech researchers have resurrected a 500-million-year-old gene from bacteria and inserted it into modern-day Escherichia coli(E. coli) bacteria. This bacterium has now been growing for more than 1,000 generations, giving the scientists a front row seat to observe evolution in action.

Considering they intervened to place the gene in the bacteria, I'd say what they're observing is actually intelligent design in action. 'Evolution' had already taken that gene out of the game.

19 posted on 07/11/2012 1:47:00 PM PDT by Oberon (Big Brutha Be Watchin'.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
Using a process called paleo-experimental evolution, Georgia Tech researchers have resurrected a 500-million-year-old gene from bacteria and inserted it into modern-day Escherichia coli(E. coli) bacteria. This bacterium has now been growing for more than 1,000 generations, giving the scientists a front row seat to observe evolution in action.

Considering they intervened to place the gene in the bacteria, I'd say what they're observing is actually intelligent design in action. 'Evolution' had already taken that gene out of the game.

20 posted on 07/11/2012 1:48:02 PM PDT by Oberon (Big Brutha Be Watchin'.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
What are they thinking?..............

New Lab Student: "My my. These guys are complete pigs. I'll show 'em, I'll get all these dishes spotless. Bet I get an "A".


21 posted on 07/11/2012 1:49:04 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
I'm completely confused. What makes this gene ancient? It doesn't exist in any living bacteria today? What exactly did they do in 2008?

In 2008, Kaçar's postdoctoral advisor, Associate Professor of Biology Eric Gaucher, successfully determined the ancient genetic sequence of Elongation Factor-Tu (EF-Tu), an essential protein in E. coli. EFs are one of the most abundant proteins in bacteria, found in all known cellular life and required for bacteria to survive. That vital role made it a perfect protein for the scientists to answer questions about evolution.

22 posted on 07/11/2012 1:55:37 PM PDT by DManA
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: massmike

Helpful Hint.

When you post a picture, control the size by prefixing your ‘img src’ command with ‘img height=xxx’. 300 is a good size.

i.e. <img height=300 img src=....


23 posted on 07/11/2012 1:55:37 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: ontap

Go Go Godzilla!


24 posted on 07/11/2012 1:55:52 PM PDT by Scott from the Left Coast
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

This is self-adverting and self-promotion by the scientists involved and the GIT institute. Whatever new process name they call it, this is not new.

The only exciting news is that the old gene coded protein is still recognizable, and performed with relatively similar function.

Consider the life span of an E. coli generation, in a lab optimal condition, they replicate in about 20 min, the mutation rate is much accerlerated and accumulated over the 500 million year span.


25 posted on 07/11/2012 1:59:14 PM PDT by Sir Napsalot (Pravda + Useful Idiots = CCCP; JournOList + Useful Idiots = DopeyChangey!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: tet68
Or worse a tyrannosaurus E Coli.

I had Industrial disease, but I cured it with T-Rex E. Coli.

26 posted on 07/11/2012 2:00:13 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
Yeah, but the scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could that they didn't stop to think if they should!
27 posted on 07/11/2012 2:01:08 PM PDT by KC_Lion (The Supreme Court issued their ruling on Obamacare. Soon, We the People shall issue ours.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

Cue "Don't Fear The Reaper"

28 posted on 07/11/2012 2:02:48 PM PDT by Dr. Thorne (Don't vote for anyone who worked for Goldman Sachs)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
"Georgia Tech researchers have resurrected a 500-million-year-old gene from bacteria and inserted it into modern-day Escherichia coli(E. coli) bacteria. This bacterium has now been growing for more than 1,000 generations"

What could possibly go wrong?

29 posted on 07/11/2012 2:03:24 PM PDT by Cementjungle
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

why would you grow something in poop?


30 posted on 07/11/2012 2:04:09 PM PDT by Taffini ( Mr. Pippen and Mr. Waffles do not approve and neither do I)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Taffini

Ask a farmer. ;)


31 posted on 07/11/2012 2:07:00 PM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: Darksheare

Yeah, it are !


32 posted on 07/11/2012 2:07:14 PM PDT by stephenjohnbanker (God, family, country, mom, apple pie, the girl next door and a Ford F250 to pull my boat.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: stephenjohnbanker

I’m seeing in teh mid’s eye, a petri dish.
The dish sprouts a pseudopod which grabs a pen, then it shoves the pen into the ‘ear’ of the newly sprouted ‘pseudohead’ as it begins quoting Shakespear.


33 posted on 07/11/2012 2:17:28 PM PDT by Darksheare (You will never defeat Bok Choy!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: Taffini

Fertilizer.................


34 posted on 07/11/2012 2:21:57 PM PDT by Red Badger (Think logically. Act normally.................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

Dr. Ian Malcolm: I’ll tell you the problem with the scientific power you’re using here: it didn’t require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done, and you took the next step. You didn’t earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don’t take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you, you’ve patented it, and packaged it, you’ve slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now
[pounds table with fists]
Dr. Ian Malcolm: you’re selling it.
[pounds table again]
Dr. Ian Malcolm: You want to sell it, well...
John Hammond: I don’t think you’re giving us our due credit. Our scientists have done things which nobody’s ever done before...
Dr. Ian Malcolm: Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.


35 posted on 07/11/2012 2:28:07 PM PDT by workerbee (June 28, 2012 -- 9/11 From Within)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Cementjungle

Considering it was Georgia Tech, it probably was a, “Hold muh flask and watch this!” moment...............


36 posted on 07/11/2012 2:29:46 PM PDT by Red Badger (Think logically. Act normally.................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: UCANSEE2

...as she rinses the stuff down the drain into the sewer lines................where it grows and mutates in this sudden new and rich environment, with no natural enemies to hamper its progress........and suddenly, people start disappearing in their own bathrooms while on the potty............the FBI is called in to investigate, but by that time entire towns start to de-populate...........small Georgia cities suddenly devoid of people....................


37 posted on 07/11/2012 2:34:23 PM PDT by Red Badger (Think logically. Act normally.................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: Noob1999

It’s time to go Scientologist on Mars and send bacteria life there to get started. By slowly creating Mars conditions in the lab we could evolve something that could thrive. Possibly Mars did just that to Earth before their SUV emissions destroyed all Martian life.


38 posted on 07/11/2012 2:39:17 PM PDT by Reeses
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

500 million year old gene...a little misleading. The gene was produced recently. It’s a best guess, based on today’s sequences, at what the sequence was 500 million years ago.


39 posted on 07/11/2012 2:42:32 PM PDT by Rokurota
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

“altered lineages actually became healthier than their modern counterpart”

Oh goody. Who is funding this?


40 posted on 07/11/2012 2:44:33 PM PDT by Selene
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Darksheare
they'll prolly think everything is okydoky till one day it stands up on it's hind legs and grabs them by the throat...
41 posted on 07/11/2012 2:48:04 PM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Chode

Patiently it waited, the protoplasmic entity watched the bustling technicians scurry around the room.
Waiting for one to get close enough...


42 posted on 07/11/2012 2:55:32 PM PDT by Darksheare (You will never defeat Bok Choy!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 41 | View Replies]

To: DManA

Exactly what I was thinking. How did they determine this
gene was 500 million years old? Cause it was found in
presently existing bacteria which are SUPPOSEDLY very old?

Did they find a bacteria with a time clock in it that read
500 million years, buried under sedimentary rock?
It also appears that the epigenetic mechanisms involved
in genome influence change also. So what does that tell
you about how the gene mutates? Do genes mutate around
a “successful” sequence? (i.e. anything that goes outside
that sequence is harmful to the organisms survival). I.e.
it mutates within a “shere of successful” sequences and not
outside it.

anyway, as always, many other questions.


43 posted on 07/11/2012 2:59:39 PM PDT by Getready (Wisdom is more valuable than gold and diamonds, and harder to find.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

Yup a very bad bug in its own right.


44 posted on 07/11/2012 2:59:56 PM PDT by mcshot (God bless the USA! OMG PLEASE vote ABO or OWW and our Country dies.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger; Taffini
...and in an e. coli for goodness sakes............

Everything had to start somewhere.

45 posted on 07/11/2012 3:02:09 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Reeses

I have long thought this was a rather cool idea.

If you could get a bacteria to grow in ‘Martian’ conditions - the question would no longer be “Is there or was there ever life on Mars”; it would be “Do we want there to be life on Mars?”.


46 posted on 07/11/2012 3:06:49 PM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: Taffini
why would you grow something in poop?

Most life forms grow rather well in poop.

47 posted on 07/11/2012 3:07:43 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: UCANSEE2

No mask or gloves. It must be harmless. (/s maybe)


48 posted on 07/11/2012 3:09:02 PM PDT by Selene
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

49 posted on 07/11/2012 3:10:31 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 37 | View Replies]

To: Rokurota
It’s a best guess, based on today’s sequences, at what the sequence was 500 million years ago.

Considering it 'evolved' a little differently than they thought it would, maybe their best guess wasn't on the money either.

The REALLY interesting point is that no matter what the conjured up to start with (whether they were correct or not), it seemed to figure out what to do to adapt.

50 posted on 07/11/2012 3:16:44 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-93 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson