June 28, 2007
Mutation State University
From the Dept. of Alma Mater Promotion:
In the corner of a laboratory at Michigan State University, one of the longest-running experiments in evolution is quietly unfolding. A dozen flasks of sugary broth swirl on a gently rocking table. Each is home to hundreds of millions of Escherichia coli, the common gut microbe. These 12 lines of bacteria have been reproducing since 1989, when the biologist Richard E. Lenski bred them from a single E. coli. “I originally thought it might go a couple thousand generations, but it’s kept going and stayed interesting,” Dr. Lenski said. He is up to 40,000 generations now, and counting.
In case you glossed over it: “…have been reproducing since 1989.” That is, to be clear, an 18-year-old experiment. And counting!