Bacterial Simplification

I wonder – does the ICR have a google alert set up for “Richard Lenski,” or for “Morris”? Anyway, Brian Thomas’ April 30th article, New Theory: Evolution Goes Backward, comments on a paper called The Black Queen Hypothesis: Evolution of Dependencies through Adaptive Gene Loss, by J. Jeffrey Morris, Richard E. Lenski, and Erik R. Zinserc.

If you’re wondering, and can’t be bothered to click the link, here’s where the name comes from:

We present the Black Queen Hypothesis (BQH), a novel theory of reductive evolution that explains how selection leads to such dependencies; its name refers to the queen of spades in the game Hearts, where the usual strategy is to avoid taking this card. Gene loss can provide a selective advantage by conserving an organism’s limiting resources, provided the gene’s function is dispensable.

And so on. Read it all – it’s open access after all.

The question is, how much of that does a bacterium actually *need*? Continue reading