I have a question for you which has been bugging me for a couple of days. In one of the microbiology subjects I did last semester, we did some transformation and induced E. coli to take up free environmental plasmids and subsequently incorporate them into their own plasmids. The genes were then expressed, and in this experiment the bacteria were able to metabolise a sugar which they can’t usually metabolise, and turned purple. Evolution?
I have two more years to go, then I will be a medical scientist! . . . I have God to keep me sane.
—L.M., Australia

The experiment you did in the lab is not an example of evolution, as the term is commonly defined (i.e., molecules-to-man evolution). However, if you just consider the word evolution to mean “change,” then you could say the bacteria “evolved.”

The gene(s) that the bacteria took up from the environment came from another source, likely another bacteria that could metabolize the sugar. So, you basically just assisted in the transfer of genetic information from one bacteria to another. This is something that bacteria do often in nature.

The genetic information is not new information, which is required for molecules-to-man evolution. If you want to go from a bacteria to a human being, you have to add new information (the ability to make brains, eyes, etc.). You can’t just “tweak” what is already there. While the gene may be new to the bacteria, it is not new information overall. It’s just transferred information from one source to another.

—Dr. Georgia Purdom

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