Article ID: CBB475403283

The Experimental Study of Bacterial Evolution and Its Implications for the Modern Synthesis of Evolutionary Biology (2018)


Since the 1940s, microbiologists, biochemists and population geneticists have experimented with the genetic mechanisms of microorganisms in order to investigate evolutionary processes. These evolutionary studies of bacteria and other microorganisms gained some recognition from the standard-bearers of the modern synthesis of evolutionary biology, especially Theodosius Dobzhansky and Ledyard Stebbins. A further period of post-synthesis bacterial evolutionary research occurred between the 1950s and 1980s. These experimental analyses focused on the evolution of population and genetic structure, the adaptive gain of new functions, and the evolutionary consequences of competition dynamics. This large body of research aimed to make evolutionary theory testable and predictive, by giving it mechanistic underpinnings. Although evolutionary microbiologists promoted bacterial experiments as methodologically advantageous and a source of general insight into evolution, they also acknowledged the biological differences of bacteria. My historical overview concludes with reflections on what bacterial evolutionary research achieved in this period, and its implications for the still-developing modern synthesis.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Article Smocovitis, Vassiliki Betty; (2006)
Keeping up with Dobzhansky: G. Ledyard Stebbins, Jr., Plant Evolution, and the Evolutionary Synthesis (/isis/citation/CBB000740907/) unapi

Article Depew, David J.; (2011)
Adaptation as Process: The Future of Darwinism and the Legacy of Theodosius Dobzhansky (/isis/citation/CBB001023991/) unapi

Article Philippe Huneman; (2019)
How the Modern Synthesis Came to Ecology (/isis/citation/CBB692195212/) unapi

Article Yoichi Ishida; (2017)
Sewall Wright, shifting balance theory, and the hardening of the modern synthesis (/isis/citation/CBB492038485/) unapi

Article Smocovitis, Vassiliki Betty; (2014)
Disciplining and Popularizing: Evolution and Its Publics from the Modern Synthesis to the Present (/isis/citation/CBB001420093/) unapi

Article Zachos, Frank E.; Hossfeld, Uwe; (2010)
Adolf Remane (1898--1976) and His Views on Systematics, Homology and the Modern Synthesis (/isis/citation/CBB001421107/) unapi

Article David Sepkoski; (2019)
The Unfinished Synthesis?: Paleontology and Evolutionary Biology in the 20th Century (/isis/citation/CBB603354866/) unapi

Thesis Green, Lisa Anne; (2012)
Science for Survival: The Modern Synthesis of Evolution and the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (/isis/citation/CBB001567386/) unapi

Article Delisle, Richard G.; (2011)
What Was Really Synthesized during the Evolutionary Synthesis? A Historiographic Proposal (/isis/citation/CBB001023986/) unapi

Thesis Nelson, Nicole Christine; (2011)
Capturing Complexity: Experimental Systems and Epistemic Scaffolds in Animal Behavior Genetics (/isis/citation/CBB001567338/) unapi

Essay Review Brito da Cunha, A.; (1998)
On Dobzhansky and his evolution (/isis/citation/CBB000079249/) unapi

Article Smocovitis, V.B.; (1992)
Unifying biology: The evolutionary synthesis and evolutionary biology (/isis/citation/CBB000044374/) unapi

Chapter Meer, Jitse M. van der; (2007)
Theodosius Dobzhansky: Nothing in Evolution Makes Sense Except in the Light of Religion (/isis/citation/CBB000760653/) unapi

Article Mikhail B. Konashev; (2019)
Th. Dobzhansky and the Development of Evolutionary Biology in the USSR (/isis/citation/CBB629293770/) unapi

Article Souza, Vanderlei Sebastião de; Santos, Ricardo Ventura; (2014)
The Emergence of Human Population Genetics and Narratives about the Formation of the Brazilian Nation (1950--1960) (/isis/citation/CBB001421069/) unapi

Authors & Contributors
Smocovitis, Vassiliki Betty
Delisle, Richard G.
Echeverria, Begona
Brito da Cunha, A.
Meer, Jitse M. van der
Rudge, David Wÿss
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Journal of the History of Biology
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Biology and Philosophy
Studies in History of Biology
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
Cornell University
University of California, Riverside
Modern Synthesis (biology)
Dobzhansky, Theodosius
Huxley, Julian Sorell
Stebbins, George Ledyard
Simpson, George Gaylord
Rensch, Bernhard
Rensch, Bernhard Carl Emmanuel
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
21st century
20th century, late
United States
Soviet Union
Rockefeller Foundation

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment