An anonymous reader writes with news that researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have taken a gene from 500-million-year-old bacteria and inserted it into modern E. coli bacteria
. They then allowed the bacteria to evolve over the course of a thousand generations to see whether it would resemble its original 'evolutionary trajectory.' From the article:
"After achieving the difficult task of placing the ancient gene in the correct chromosomal order and position in place of the modern gene within E. coli, Kaçar produced eight identical bacterial strains and allowed 'ancient life' to re-evolve. This chimeric bacteria composed of both modern and ancient genes survived, but grew about two times slower than its counterpart composed of only modern genes. 'The altered organism wasn’t as healthy or fit as its modern-day version, at least initially,' said Gaucher, 'and this created a perfect scenario that would allow the altered organism to adapt and become more fit as it accumulated mutations with each passing day.' The growth rate eventually increased and, after the first 500 generations, the scientists sequenced the genomes of all eight lineages to determine how the bacteria adapted. Not only did the fitness levels increase to nearly modern-day levels, but also some of the altered lineages actually became healthier than their modern counterpart."