A modern E-coli bacterium has been breathed into with a new live gene dating back 500 million years. The bacteria have been resurrected by taking inspiration from the dinosaurs of “Jurassic Park” in a similar laboratory experiment at Geogia Tech. The 500 million year old germ has been merged into the E-coli bacterium and is thriving. Under laboratory conditions it has lived and survived through 1000 generations.
The experiment was started in 2008 by researchers at Georgia Tech, who came upon a prehistoric genetic sequence of a gene termed as the Elongation Factor-Tu that originates in cellular beings. The Bacteria depend on this EF-Tu for their survival. Speculation is on amongst the experts as to whether the “ancient bacterium” will evolve into a new form or remain the same “ancient“ organism.
"This is as close as we can get to rewinding and replaying the molecular tape of life," stated Betül Kaçar, astrobiology postdoctoral fellow in Georgia Tech at NASA’s center for Ribosomal origins and Evolution. He reckoned the sequence and the place where the prehistoric gene would splice with the E-coli chromosomes and landed up with 8 identical E-coli strains.
The Betul Kacar team allowed the bacterium to cultivate for 500 generations and observed how the growth spurts took an upswing. After sequencing they found out that evolution was walking a different tune. The gene didn't metamorphose to appear like the present day gene in its place, the proteins intermingling with this gene went through a transformation.
"The altered organism wasn’t as healthy or fit as its modern-day version, at least initially," stated Gaucher, "and this created a perfect scenario that would allow the altered organism to adapt and become more fit as it accumulated mutations with each passing day."
This “genetically different" variety grew much slower than its modern equivalent. "We think that this process will allow us to address several longstanding questions in evolutionary and molecular biology," asserted Kaçar. "Among them, we want to know if an organism’s history limits its future and if evolution always leads to a single, defined point or whether evolution has multiple solutions to a given problem."
Mother Nature has proved that it can be very resourceful and imaginative coming up with new solutions to one problem.The scientists carry on their hard work with abated breath and try to the unravel secrets of evolution.