If

Every day, we propagate the E. coli populations in the long-term evolution experiment (LTEE) by transferring 0.1 ml of the previous day’s culture into 9.9 ml of fresh medium. This 100-fold dilution and regrowth back to stationary phase—when the bacteria have exhausted the resources—allow log2 100 = 6.64 generations (doublings) per day. We round that …

More

What Was I Thinking?

The LTEE has run for over 10,000 days and almost 67,000 generations. It’s time to shut it down, as of today. It’s been a hell of a lot of work, and we have almost nothing to show for it. As some astute commentators have noted around the web, the creatures in the flasks are still …

More

Some Wrinkles in Time

Today is another milestone for the E. coli long-term evolution experiment—the LTEE, for short. I did the 10,000th daily transfer today at about noon. [Yours truly, doing the 10,000th LTEE transfers. Technician Neerja Hajela is keeping a close eye on me, and with good reason. Photo by Thomas LaBar.] Some of you will remember we …

More

Asking for a Skeptic Friend

I sometimes get email from people asking, in one way or another, whether our long-term evolution experiment (LTEE) with E. coli provides evidence of evolution writ large – new species, new information, or something of that sort. I try to answer these questions by providing some examples of what we’ve seen change, and by putting …

More

Birthday Haiku

This past weekend I had my 60th birthday. I was delighted to celebrate it with wonderful colleagues, students, friends, and family. At a dinner roast and toast, everyone sang When We’re Sixty Four (Thousand), a tribute from the E. coli in the LTEE to the People of the Lab. And several friends came up with …

More

A Blast from the Past

Sometimes you need a thick skin to be a scientist or scholar. Almost everyone, it seems, has encountered a reviewer who didn’t bother to read what you wrote or badly misunderstood what you said. In other cases, you realize on reflection that a reviewer’s criticisms, although annoying and even painful at first, are justified in …

More

63,000 Strong

Ever wonder about those big numbers posted in a window in that tall building on the east side of Farm Lane, across from the entrance to the MSU Dairy Store? Right now, the digits read 63000. That’s the number of generations in an experiment that’s been running in my lab for over a quarter century. …

More

Thirty Years

No, the LTEE did not suddenly jump forward by almost 3 years. That milestone will be reached on February 24, 2018. Next Friday is the end of the semester at MSU and, for me, it will mark 30 years that I’ve been on the faculty: six at UC-Irvine, and 24 here at MSU. (I also taught …

More

Funding the LTEE—past, present, and future: Questions from Jeremy Fox about the LTEE, part 4

This is the 4th installment in my responses to Jeremy Fox’s questions about the long-term evolution experiment (LTEE) with E. coli. This response addresses his 5th and 6th questions, which are copied below.  ~~~~~ How have you maintained funding for the LTEE over the years, and how hard has it been? The difficulty of sustaining funding for long term work …

More

On Time and Space

The long-term evolution experiment (LTEE) began in 1988, and the E. coli populations are approaching 60,000 generations.  That’s a long time for an experiment, and I hope it continues for much, much longer. But when I give talks about the LTEE, I also try to remind people that 26 years is only a drop in …

More

To Edinburgh and Back

I had a terrific visit to Scotland last week.  The graduate students in the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Edinburgh invited me to speak there.  Thanks especially to Manon Ragonnet and Sam Lewis for organizing and hosting my visit. It seems a bit extravagant to fly overseas for a one-hour lecture.  But …

More