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October 23, 2012
Jeffrey Barrick, a postdoctoral research associate in Michigan State University's (MSU) Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, views bacteria cultures. Barrick worked in the lab of Richard Lenski, the Hannah Professor of Microbial Ecology at MSU, who studies the process of evolution using fast-reproducing bacteria that allow him to watch the process in action. Lenski began the study in 1988, when he started experimenting with 12 populations the bacteria E. coli. Lenski used E. coli from the same ancestral strain and living in identical environments so he could see how similarly or differently they would evolve. He planned on running the experiment for at least a year and culture about 2,000 bacterial generations, but 21 years and almost 40,000 generations later the experiment continues. The research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Credit: G. L. Kohuth, Michigan State University