Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Chance in Evolution$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Grant Ramsey and Charles H. Pence

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226401744

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226401911.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 25 June 2022

History’s Windings in a Flask: Microbial Experiments into Evolutionary Contingency

History’s Windings in a Flask: Microbial Experiments into Evolutionary Contingency

(p.244) Chapter 10 History’s Windings in a Flask: Microbial Experiments into Evolutionary Contingency
Chance in Evolution

Zachary D. Blount

University of Chicago Press

Evolution is an inherently historical phenomenon that involves both deterministic and stochastic processes that play out in the context of historically continuous lineages existing in a world subject to sometimes sudden, capricious change. Stephen Jay Gould argued that these characteristics imparts a historicity to evolution that makes evolutionary outcomes profoundly sensitive to the through which they arise. Famously, Gould proposed that this historical contingency means that, were one to replay the “tape of life”, a very different biological world would result. This is, of course, a difficult thought experiment to instantiate on the global level Gould envisioned. However, replay experiments are possible on the small scale using laboratory populations of microbes. In recent decades, many researchers have used evolution experiments with microorganisms to empirically examine the role of historical contingency in evolution. These experiments have made substantial contributions to our understanding of the role of contingency in evolution, even if it is too early to make any final conclusions. Just as importantly, they have aided in better understanding exactly what historical contingency is. In this chapter I survey the designs, findings, and implications of microbial evolution experiments into evolutionary contingency.

Keywords:   historical contingency, evolution, experimental evolution, long-term evolution experiments, path dependence, evolutionary repeatability, microbiology, E. coli, LTEE

Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.