E. coli bacteria




Following our publication of a question and answer on Lenski’s E. coli experiment we received a request for further information.  We suggest you first read the original question:
Bacteria Evolution? Lenski’s E coli experiment: Has it shown bacteria can evolve new information? Answer here by Diane Eager

Follow up questions were:

  1. Why do you use as your reference, criteria that is 131 years out of date? (Referring to the bacteria being named in 1885)
  2. Is there any evidence of gene loss?
  3. The bacteria are surviving in a difficult environment. Isn’t this increasing fitness?

Answer by Diane Eager.

Why make a reference to its initial naming as E coli in 1885?  Simply to show that scientists have been studying the bacterium for over 130 years and according to the observations then and observations now, it is still the same bacterium.  The 1885 observations are not out of date.  The bacteria are identical to the 2016 ones and every other observation between. This is evidence that it has multiplied after its kind as long as we have observed it and that it has not evolved.

In fact, the most important overall point is that none of Lenski’s experiments, or any other studies of E. coli, have shown this bacterium to be evolving into any other organism, and none of the studies provide any evidence that it has evolved from something else.

For evolutionists to prove their point on the origin of species they have to show how an organism that was not an E. coli bacterium turned into one, or show an E. coli bacterium turning into even a new species of Escherichia or into a totally different bacteria with completely new genetic information that did not previously exist.  Lenski has not claimed to do this.  He started with E. coli and the succeeding generations of bacteria are still by all rules of classification E. coli.

The question about losing genetic information is a good one, but this is not the case in the Lenski experiment. The changes involved include the movement of some genetic information and the duplication of some information.  This is change, but it is not evolution.  Moving information around and making extra copies of existing information is not the same as generating new information that did not exist before.

It is true that Lenski’s mutant bacteria are surviving in a controlled artificial environment. But this is not necessarily increasing fitness.  The real test of fitness for any of the changes that have occurred would be determined only by putting them back in their natural environment, and seeing how they survive.  As far as we know this has not been tried.

Overall, the Lesnki experiment has helped us learn more about how genes work, and the effect of moving genetic information around, but it has not shown how bacteria could have evolved from, or into, another kind of organism.

CHECK OUT the original question on the Lenski experiment:

Bacteria Evolution? Lenski’s E coli experiment: Has it shown bacteria can evolve new information? Answer here

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About The Contributor

Diane Eager