Book of Abstracts: Albany 2007
June 19-23 2007
Directed Mutations in Evolution: Linking Theory, Computation, and Experiments Using RNA Sequences as a Model
The subject of directed mutations in evolutionary theory, starting with experiments in E. coli conducted during the 1980's (1, 7), has opened the door to an ongoing debate about the nature of mutations. Traditional Darwinian thinking states that mutations occur at random regardless of fitness consequences to the resulting mutants. In contrast, the alternative hypothesis to the random mutation hypothesis states that mutations are likely to occur when the environment favors the survival of the resulting mutants. Our research attempts to identify directed mutations in Bacillus subtilis strains collected from the xeric, "African", south-facing slope (SFS) vs. the mesic, "European", north-facing slope (NFS) in "Evolution Canyon" III at Nahal Shaharut in Israel (5, 8). Using computational methods (2) and experimental methods similar to (4) at the transcription termination level of riboswitches (3, 6), which are RNA-based regulatory mechanisms believed to be of ancient origin in the evolutionary time scale, we are examining the environmental effect on functional RNA sequences by analyzing the mutants collected from opposite slopes of "Evolution Canyon" III.
The research was supported by a grant from the Israel USA Binational Science Foundation BSF 2004291. D.B. appreciates the support of the Lynn and William Frankel Center for Computer Sciences.
References and Footnotes
1Institute of Evolution