Limits to Predicting Evolution: Insights from a Long-Term Experiment with Escherichia coli

Part of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation book series (GEVO)


Our inability to predict how populations of cells will evolve is a fundamental challenge to human health and biological engineering. In medicine, one would like to predict and thwart, or at least have time to adequately prepare for potentially catastrophic events such as the emergence of new pathogens, the spread of drug resistance, and the progression of chronic infections and cancers. In bioengineering, one would like to stop, or at least delay, evolution that inactivates a designed function, in order to make genetic engineering and synthetic biology more reliable and efficient. On a larger scale, one would also like to predict when the presence of recombinant DNA or a certain species might pose a threat to nature or civilization if it has the potential to evolve to become harmful.


limits of prediction adaptive laboratory evolution fitness trajectory genetic basis of adaptation chance and necessity replaying evolution nutrient cross-feeding evolution of ecology arresting evolution 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Molecular Biosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX USA; and BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in ActionMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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