Evolution in almost real time

I thought I had shown the fascinating video below before but a search of my blog did not find it, suggesting that I meant to and forgot. It shows how in just eleven days bacteria can evolve to become resistant to high levels of antibiotics. As a visual demonstration of evolution it is dramatic. It is also frightening in that it shows how we need to be careful about the use of antibiotics since unnecessary use can help speed up the appearance of resistant strains of bacteria.


  1. ShowMetheData says

    This was also shown on Fierce Roller’s Blog at FTB

    I did some calculations to see how many chances for mutations
    For me the word to describe the path of selection is # deaths and complete generations replaced.
    Huge amount of numbers and short life cycles (with mutation rates/Billion base-pairs) practically guarantee change under selection.
    For the 1st section of that growth medium:
    Section Depth 133.33mm
    Width 600 mm
    Height 11 mm
    e-Coli Vol (1mm3) 1,000,000,000 10 ^ 9
    Per Generation # of E-Coli 880,000,000,000,000.
    1st Mutation #generations 150
    Total # of e-coli born and died before the 1st bacterial-resistant mutation = 1.32E+17 chances
    And that does not include the ‘partial’ mutations that made further, later, mutations possible.

    The creationist fantasy in describing evolution is that it is just one cell doing this.
    Nope – key word = population.

  2. says

    I always thought that if I wanted to go terrorist I’d get my hands on every antibiotic known to man and breed strains of antibiotic-resistant nasties. I hadn’t realized it’d be merely a summer project. I’m surprised nobody’s done it yet (except the folks at USAMRIID and the Biopreparat guys in Russia)

  3. Mano Singham says


    The difficulty (as I understand it) with waging biological warfare of the type you describe is not the production of lethal bacteria in the lab. It is how to get it to spread over a large population. It has to be not only lethal, it has to be not too lethal because the host dying too soon reduces its chances of propagation. It also has to be able to survive and thrive outside the host.

    Naturally occurring strains of deadly bacteria or viruses tend to come by these properties because they are created in the actual environment to be able to survive and propagate.

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