Microbial Experimental Evolution – a proving ground for evolutionary theory and a tool for discovery

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Microbial experimental evolution uses controlled laboratory populations to study the mechanisms of evolution. The molecular analysis of evolved populations enables empirical tests that can confirm the predictions of evolutionary theory, but can also lead to surprising discoveries. As with other fields in the life sciences, microbial experimental evolution has become a tool, deployed as part of the suite of techniques available to the molecular biologist. Here, I provide a review of the general findings of microbial experimental evolution, especially those relevant to molecular microbiologists that are new to the field. I also relate these results to design considerations for an evolution experiment and suggest future directions for those working at the intersection of experimental evolution and molecular biology.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere46992
Number of pages14
JournalEMBO Reports
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • adaptation
  • directed evolution
  • experimental evolution
  • microbiome evolution
  • selection

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