One Man’s Evolution is Another Man’s Adaptation, it Seems

Saccharomyces cerevisiae — baker's yeastWhere the second man is, obviously, the ICR’s Brian Thomas.

In today’s Daily (pseudo)Science Update, Yeast Adapt, But Don’t Evolve, we have a discussion of a study on the capacity for yeast to Evolve/Adapt to environmental changes. Why Mr Thomas links to the Science article that we can only see part of, rather than the Time blog postwe can read completely I don’t know. The study “tracked the fate of over 2,000 populations of yeast over a period of several months”, testing their ability to evolve in the face of changes in salt concentration in their environment. Their results were surprising – yeast seems to be able to adapt in only around “50 – 100 generations”.

As Mr Thomas himself says:

If evolution works the way that neo-Darwinism has proposed, then accidental mutations in some yeast individuals should lead to new molecules that help the organism cope with a saltier environment—as long as the environment doesn’t change too fast for the mutations to keep pace.

As this is exactly what the study found, and is a pretty decent summary of the whole thing, the DpSU is largely concerned about why this is apparently not a massive tour-de-force for “neo-Darwinism” (or evolution for those of us that don’t think they need to lump it in with all the other ‘ism’s in an attempt to be derogatory) and is instead a product of “adaptation”. Continue reading