Populations under microevolutionary scrutiny: what will we gain?
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Understanding the evolution of biodiversity and the function of biological systems are burning and linked questions in biology. Evolution of biodiversity begins at the level of microevolution, with the differentiation of individuals in populations. The study of this process splits into two conceptually different approaches (1) the concept of functional biology of testing hypothesis by precisely controlled and forward-directed experiments (digital and experimental evolution), and (2) the concept of a theory-based historical narrative (testing hypothesis on events in the past for their suitability to best explain the present). Here, I discuss and emphasize the benefits of the study of natural bacterial populations for a deeper understanding of prokaryotic biology. Also, I adress current problems in taxonomy at the ‘species’ level which obviously need discussion and clarification. I exemplify this with a natural model population for such studies, Bacillus simplex from “Evolution Canyon”, Israel.
KeywordsMicroevolution Species concept Evolutionary lineage Intraspecies diversity Bacillus simplex Evolution Canyon
I thank Fred Cohan, Eviatar Nevo, Erko Stackebrandt, Brain J. Tindall, Wilfried Wackernagel, and the DSMZ colleagues for inspiring discussions. Also, I thank Alejandro Rooney for sharing unpublished data. Finally, I thank the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) for financial support (SI 1352/1-1).
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