A2: Microbes in the News (Post 2)


New technique pinpoints milestones in the evolution of bacteria

Jennifer Chu | MIT News Office
February 7, 2019

Summary: The evolution of bacteria can be studied through preserved fossils that leave behind physical evidence of their evolution. However, there us new technique that MIT scientists that is a reliable way to determine specific groups of bacteria that appeared in the evolutionary record. This technique can also help rival details of changes that may have occurred. The break through was discovering that tracing certain genes like the gene that codes for production of chitinase in bacteria can give a bigger insight into how certain bacteria evolved.

Connections: As the article states that preserved fossils are an important resource to have in learning the evolution of bacteria and we also learned in class about how bacteria are preserved over time. In class we learned that fossilized microbial formations are called stromatolites that can be found in rocks that are 3.5 billion years old. They are formed when certain microbial mats that deposition minerals that promote fossilization.

Critical analysis: What I found interesting about this article was that the researchers were able to trace the chitinase in fungi which most resembled the gene when it first appeared in bacteria and reasoned that that must have been when fungi transferred the gene to bacteria. I think this article did a good job at explaining something that can be confusing for people that aren’t involved with science could possibly understand the general concept of the research they have done.

Question: Would be there be any other was to determine how a bacterium evolved and obtain traits that helped them survive?

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