Study opens door to concept of ‘species’ in bacteria
Bacteria adapt to habitats through random genetic mutations and gene exchange. But how does an advantageous mutation spread from a bacterium to a population? Does the gene sweep through a population or does an individual bacterium obtain the gene, then replicate its genome many times to form a new and better-adapted population? Researchers including CEE Professors Eric Alm and Martin Polz and MIT alumnus Jesse Shapiro ’10 show that genes can sweep through populations on their own, indicating that the process of evolution in bacteria is very similar to that of sexual eukaryotes. Read a news release.