Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023


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Secret of human evolution has been unlocked by a 33-year yeast experiment

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The secrets of human evolution have apparently been unlocked – and all it took was a 33-year experiment involving a packet of yeast.

A bunch of scientists at a laboratory in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, are continuing an experiment started in 1988 by a teacher who is a former student.

The strange experiment started by Will Ratcliff saw him take some yeast and swirl it around a test with some water.

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The ones at the bottom were removed and used to grow the next day's population of yeast, the New York Times reports.

This experiment has now been repeated thousands of times across the 33-year via various students.

He hoped that by doing this, mutations would form – and they did.

The yeast started turning into “snowflake years”, which basically means they were forming genetically identical cells in each pot, and the yeast had become multicellular.

He said: “All of the lineages that we know of that evolved multicellularity, they made this step hundreds of millions of years ago, and we don’t have a lot of information about how single cells form groups.”

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The experiments also proved how vital oxygen has been in the role of evolution.

Some of the yeast was put in a low oxygen environment, which saw the particles having to compete for it.

A newly-released reported on states: “This occurred through biophysical adaptation—evolution of increasingly elongate cells that initially reduced the strain of cellular packing and then facilitated branch entanglements that enabled groups of cells to stay together even after many cellular bonds fracture.

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“By contrast, snowflake yeast competing for low oxygen remained microscopic, evolving to be only around sixfold larger, underscoring the critical role of oxygen levels in the evolution of multicellular size.

“Together, this research provides unique insights into an ongoing evolutionary transition in individuality, showing how simple groups of cells overcome fundamental biophysical limitations through gradual, yet sustained, multicellular evolution.”

So next time you're eating some bread, think about how important the yeast you're swallowing actually is.

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