Bacteria and virus evolution: a model for the study of natural selection

Published on October 1, 2007 Updated on September 18, 2020   44 min

Other Talks in the Category: Biochemistry

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Bacteria and virus evolution, a model for the study of natural selection.
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This lecture covers the following topics. Experimental evolution of microbes is a relatively new field in biology, I'll describe how its foundations trace back to familiar and pioneering work of 19th century scientists, especially Gregor Mendel's work on genetics and Charles Darwin's work on evolution by means of natural selection. By the mid-20th century, microbiologists had seized upon these ideas in order to use bacteria and their viruses to test basic biological principles. I'll then describe several modern examples of how laboratory experiments with bacteria can be successfully used to examine questions relating to parasitism and disease. First, I will discuss the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens, a problem of increasing concern to the medical community, because bacteria can adapt to overcome drugs that were previously used in combating disease. Second, I will discuss the evolution of pathogen virulence, where empirical studies show that the environment can select for either increased or decreased virulence (the harm that a parasite inflicts on its host organism). Last, I will discuss the evolution of pathogen emergence, which often involves a parasite mutating to infect a new host and subsequent selection for the parasite to become better adapted to exploiting its new host.
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I begin with a summary of the many exciting discoveries that predated modern selection experiments involving bacteria and viruses.
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Bacteria and virus evolution: a model for the study of natural selection

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