A new study published in Science shows that E. coli bacteria may be better at evolving antibiotic resistance than scientists thought. The researchers experimented with mutations of an E. coli protein and found that 75% of the possible evolutionary paths led to high antibiotic resistance. This challenges a longstanding theory about fitness landscapes in evolutionary biology. The researchers used CRISPR gene editing technology to create a fitness landscape for the E. coli protein and discovered that despite the rugged landscape, 75% of the populations reached high fitness peaks. This suggests that adaptive processes like antibiotic resistance may be more accessible than previously thought. The findings have significant real-world implications and could lead to a re-evaluation of theoretical models in various fields. The researchers believe that a shift from abstract theoretical models to data-informed, realistic landscape models is necessary.
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