So much for Darwinism. Joshua B. Plotkin writes at Nature:
Ecological interactions emerge spontaneously in an experimental study of bacterial populations cultured for 60,000 generations, and sustain rapid evolution by natural selection. (paywall)
Yes, that’s the abstract. It’s a model of economy.
This is from the article:
The authors’ most profound discovery is the spontaneous emergence of ecological interactions that fuel ongoing evolution (Fig. 1). Persistent subgroups have previously been identified in one of Lenski’s populations, but Good et al. reveal that at least 9 of the populations divide into two separate clades (genetic groups). These clades co-exist for tens of thousands of generations, and so must be maintained by some form of interdependence.
These emergent ecologies sustain ongoing adaptation at a roughly constant pace throughout the entire experiment, even though the benefits of ongoing adaptation to the entire population have been shown to decline over time4. Mutations sweep through a clade at generation 50,000 nearly as frequently and rapidly as they sweep through a population at generation 5,000. Indeed, the characteristic pattern of multiple competing beneficial mutations7 that occurs in the early phase of Lenski’s populations continues to occur in each clade throughout the experiment.
For all the statistical regularities that Good et al. reveal, the discovery of pervasive ecological interactions in the LTEE will complicate future work.
Not only can ecological and evolutionary processes co-occur, but it now seems impossible that they can be disentangled. More.
Ecology and evolution cannot be disentangled? Ramming textbook Darwinism down everyone’s throat without coercion just got a little harder.
See also: Study: Darwinian fitness does not overcome mutational decay during tens of thousands of bacteria generations