Jack-of-all-trades slows down evolutionary tree

December 27, 2013
Jack-of-all-trades slows down evolutionary tree

All living organisms are tips of an evolutionary tree that emerged over 3.5 billion years from a single common ancestor. Research in the Department of Bionanoscience at Delft University of Technology has provided the first experimental demonstration that the rate at which this tree branches depends on the ecological versatility of the ancestors. The study was published in the scientific journal PNAS.

Darwin's finches

One important mechanism by which the evolutionary tree of life branches into new species is : rapid evolution of different species from a single common ancestor. Darwin's finches are a famous example of this. In the nineteenth century, Darwin was the first to conclude that the finches of the Galapagos Islands had originated from a single . But what determines the course of adaptive radiation?

Time machine

There was already experimental evidence that showed that the dynamics of adaptive radiation are influenced by environmental factors. 'But evolutionary theory also predicts that the ecological characteristics of the ancestor should play a role,' explains Dr Bertus Beaumont (Kavli Institute of Nanoscience; Dept. of Bionanoscience). 'In order to examine this experimentally for Darwin's finches, one would have to travel three million years back in time. For this reason, we examined the prediction by studying adaptive radiation in experimental populations of bacteria. Owing to their short generation time, bacterial evolution can be studied in real time.'


Jack-of-all-trades slows down evolutionary tree

Beaumont and his PhD students Régis Flohr and Carsten Blom alterred the ecological behaviour of the ancestor and examined the impact of these changes on their ability to diversify by adaptive radiation. 'There was indeed a connection. New types of bacteria evolved less rapidly from ancestors with a broad, non-specialist survival strategy (i.e., those occupying a broad ecological 'niche'). These ecological 'jacks-of-all-trades' thus delayed branching of the ." Their evolutionary experiment provided the first that the of the ancestor constrains the rate of adaptive radiation.


'This result supports and important component of evolutionary theory. At the same time, it reveals a mechanism that can increase the impact of chance on evolution. The organisms that encounter the opportunity to undergo adaptive radiation are determined in part by chance, and with that also the ecological niche of the prospective founder, which may affect the rate of diversification' argues Beaumont. The mechanism that we have observed may have reduced the predictability of evolution.'


According to Beaumont, the work advances our understanding of the evolution of biodiversity and provides a method to quantify evolutionary diversification of micro-organisms. This is essential for understanding and controlling microbial populations in nature (e.g. the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria) and in biotechnology (e.g. wastewater treatment). In addition, the research paves the way for the study of evolutionary diversification of micro-organisms with nanofluidic chips, an application of nanotechnology that will make it possible to unravel much more complex evolutionary patterns greater detail.

Explore further: Study of rodent family tree puts brakes on commonly held understanding of evolution

More information: Founder niche constrains evolutionary adaptive radiation.Flohr RC, Blom CJ, Rainey PB, Beaumont HJ. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Dec 4.

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Dec 27, 2013
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1 / 5 (11) Dec 27, 2013
Evolution is plain silly. We have all of these different species, past and present, but virtually none to link to the supposed gradual change from one to the other. Evolution is plain not science. Non-reproducable and never observed.

Well, there is no sensible way to go from Prokaryote to Eukaryote via gradual changes, that's for certain. Eukaryotes are designed and function like a man-made manufacturing facility in every sense of the word, whereas Prokaryotes are more or less random soups of ingredients with only one containing membrane, and genetic material being the only significant organizing mechanism.

The notion that a Prokaryote just "happened" to eat another Prokaryote which just "happened" to be chemically compatible and serve some useful function without being a parasite, becoming a functional, cohesive mechanism is laughable.
5 / 5 (7) Dec 27, 2013
The great thing about science, even biology, is that it doesn't need believers in the sense of Verkle and Returners. In fact, skeptics are a bonus!! For in answering same science progresses.
1 / 5 (5) Dec 27, 2013
A natural example of our modern economy.
"Smith saw the main cause of prosperity as increasing division of labor. Using the famous example of pins, Smith asserted that ten workers could produce 48,000 pins per day if each of eighteen specialized tasks was assigned to particular workers. Average productivity: 4,800 pins per worker per day. But absent the division of labor, a worker would be lucky to produce even one pin per day.."
1 / 5 (3) Dec 27, 2013

Nutrient-dependent/pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution: a model

Ecological, social, neurogenic, and socio-cognitive niche construction during the progression of adaptations that lead to increasing organismal complexity are fueled by food, and controlled by the nutrient-dependent physiology of reproduction sans mutations theory.
5 / 5 (2) Dec 27, 2013
The bible thumpers won't like this.
1 / 5 (1) Dec 28, 2013
In the micro organism 'world' things are never simple or straightforward. Many years ago I looked at Arthrobacter Simplex under the m/scope (steroid drug production) at various stages of biotransformations. What some of the cells did were not explained by experts and, as far as I know, is still the case. The cells changed shape,'L', 'V' etc as they absorbed Cortisone A and some were converted it 'something else' altogether. What I'm suggesting is that chemicals in the environment can affect a micro-organism in perhaps unpredictable ways.
Having said that, I don't believe one could call this 'evolution' either.
1 / 5 (1) Dec 28, 2013
Darwin's finches exemplify how a single amino acid substitution that alters plumage color alters species diversity via sexual selection for the epigenetic effects of pheromones on nutrient-dependent reproduction. Initially those who Dobzhansky (1964) referred to as "bird watchers and butterfly collectors" missed out on the overwhelming complexity of epigenetically effected intercellular signaling, alternative splicings of pre-mRNA, and the requirements for balanced transcription that does not always result in gene expression -- unless expression benefits organism-level thermoregulation.

Because the bird watchers have since learned nothing about biology, they attribute ecological adaptations to mutations. Fifty years of mutations theory nonsense could have been eliminated had the bird watchers checked to see how the chemical senses / sense of smell epigenetically effect everything about avian behavior and the behavior of all species from microbes to man.
not rated yet Dec 28, 2013
I guess this has good possibilities unless they eventually plan to produce large quantities of nano-sized devices to waste water. imagine how that might carry up the food chain.
5 / 5 (1) Dec 28, 2013
Nice result, duly bookmarked under evolutionary theory.

And the antiscience creationist and pheromone spam trolling is hilarious. It is of course a great accolade to the work that tests evolution and so show that both creationist and "evolution by epigenetics" ideas are delusions. Their frantic, nonsensical commentary is too fun.

@Returners: Too bad you didn't ask it as a question, the many cases of successful endosymbiosis is after all an interesting subject. But since you don't care for the facts, I won't waste my time.

Just one point: who said symbiosis is easy? Nearly half of the animal species are parasites. Because you know, your implied purported magic agents are sooo nice to us. :-/
1 / 5 (2) Dec 28, 2013

What happens with this search is that even people like Larsson could learn something about the role of amino acid substitutions in ecological adaptations. Instead, they stick with a ridiculous theory despite evidence that the holy grail of evolutionary biology is the Creation of new genes. http://www.scienc...abstract

They will no doubt claim that their ridiculous concept of creation is mutation-driven and first ignore the nutrient-dependent duplication that leads to the nutrient-dependent diversification via amino acid substitutions in the different cell types all the while they also ignore the fact that the physiology of reproduction is nutrient-dependent and pheormone-controlled in species from microbes to man.

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