Evolution Update

Evolution Update

Brandon Kieft


Brandon Kieft is a PhD student in the Department of Microbiology at Oregon State University, studying matter and energy flow through large biological systems.

Articles by Brandon Kieft

Why Do Those Flowers Look like Bugs? Or, on the Evolution of Orchids.
A large group of flowering plants, commonly known as Orchids, often have flowers whose shape coincides with that of their insect pollinators. Recent research has shown how this uncanny flower morphology is guided by evolutionary selection.

How Plants Maintain a Low-Sodium Diet Without Advice from Their Doctors
Salt tolerance is a critical stress response in many plants and is controlled by a wide variety of interacting genes. Researchers studying sodium transporters in trees from high-salinity environments have characterized the evolution of these genes and determined that they are under strong positive selection in salty soils.

Evolutionary History of a Widespread, Recently Diverged Antioxidant Enzyme in a Pig Pathogen
Peroxiredoxins are proteins conserved across all domains of life that protect cells against the threat of reactive oxygen species. Researchers have recently characterized the evolutionary history of an essential peroxiredoxin gene from a common livestock pathogen.

A New Class of Antibiotics Less Susceptible to Evolutionary-Driven Resistance Development
Pathogenic bacteria are evolving resistance to our antibiotics at an alarming rate, however, scientists have recently discovered a molecule that may help combat these microscopic killers.

Human-Induced Evolution of City-Slicker Moths
Researchers have measured decreased flight-to-light responses in moths from urban areas with historically high light pollution. This direct example of Darwinian selection could be hurting the ecological role of moths as pollinators and food sources.

The enemy of my enemy evolves into my friend
Researchers have provided the first direct evidence of a mildly pathogenic microorganism evolving to defend its host from a more pathogenic invader. Their research indicates a potential pathway for evolution towards host-microbe mutualism.

Why Do Whales See Differently than Their Terrestrial Ancestors?
Researchers armed with the killer whale genome have discovered the molecular mechanism behind these organisms’ evolutionary adaptation to underwater vision.

How Powdery Mildew Fungus Evolved to Infect an Artificially Created Cereal Grain
50 years ago, scientists created a wheat-rye hybrid prized for its resistance to the pathogenic powdery mildew fungus. At the turn of the century, however, wild fungus began to efficiently infect the crop, and researchers have recently uncovered its evolutionary feat.

Out of Africa – Face Mite Edition
Researchers surveying mites living on the faces of a diverse set of human hosts have found that these ancient symbionts evolved alongside us since our migration out of Africa and have adapted to live on people from specific geographic regions.

Surprising Evidence for the Ancient Origin of Modern Peaches
The recent discovery of 2.5-million-year-old fossilized peach pits in China, in a form nearly identical to the fruits we know and love today, shows that modern peaches preceded modern humans.

The Rapid Genetic Adaptations of Siberian Horses
Genome sequencing of several ancient and present-day wild and domesticated horses reveals the origin of horses in the Yakutia region, Russia, as well as their rapid genetic adaptations to persistent cold temperatures.

Expanding the Diversity of Early Human Locomotion
Researchers working in the Rising Star Cave System in South Africa have recently published their discovery of an early human ancestor that is the first known hominin with a combination of modern feet and a small brain.

The Fishy Origin of Tooth Enamel
Combining fossil and genomic evidence, researchers show that modern day tooth enamel likely evolved from a protein covering the scales and dermal bones of extinct fishes.

The Evolution of a Mechanism for Escaping Predation
Researchers find a novel interaction between proteins during embryo development that allows adult water striders to jump and more efficiently avoid predation.

Experimental Evolution Reveals Potential For "Getting Stuck in the Fast Lane"
Long-term experimental evolution of marine cyanobacteria under elevated CO2 conditions shows potential irreversible adaptations for nitrogen fixation.

Insights into Human Anatomical Evolution from The "Pit of Bones"
An international research team recently published their analysis of fossils from the largest single collection of human remains in the world: a Spanish cave named Sima de los Huesos, or Pit of Bones.

Evolution May Be Hard at Work to Save Pollinating Bees
Comparison of past and present honeybee genomes reveals rapid evolution in wild honeybees populations exposed to a novel parasite.

Diet and Stomach Acidity Relationship May Have Evolutionary Origins
New research suggests stomach acidity may have evolved as a defense against infection and food poisoning, rather than solely as a means of breaking down food.

The Road to Man's Best Friend Was Paved by Competition
A study of the North American family Canidae, which contains modern day dogs, found their evolutionary history was shaped mainly by competition between other closely related (and now extinct) carnivorous groups.

Convergent Evolution of Venom From a Sugar Metabolism Protein
An insulin-like hormone in spiders and centipedes evolved independently, but with a similar pattern, to produce an insecticide toxin found in each of the organisms today.

Recent Evolutionary Divergence of an Agricultural Pest in a Single Generation
A recent study finds evidence that the “apple maggot”, a major agricultural pest in North America, may have diverged from its native fruit-tree host 150 years ago in just a single generation.

Investigation of the Molecules Involved in Brachiopod Shell Formation
In a recent study, the biomolecules making up brachiopod shells were examined to understand shell evolution.

Evolutionary Innovations Allowed Tetrapods to Colonize the Oceans
Tetrapods have transitioned back into the ocean many times throughout history. What facilitated this recurrent evolutionary event?

What Truly Makes Us Human? Maybe the Chin…
New research from the University of Iowa challenges the notion that our chin evolved for chewing.

The Genetic History of Winemaking Grapevine Clones
In a recent study, scientists learn the genetic basis for different wine varieties.

The Vision System of Vertebrates Evolved by Whole Genome Duplications
When extra genetic material is generated, the resulting evolutionary trajectory of species can be eye opening.

A 270 Million-Year-Long Tree Experiment: The Evolution of Winged Seeds
Scientists unravel the evolutionary history of "helicopter" seeds.

Transferring Genes Between Individuals of the Same Generation Is Widespread
Comparing the genomes of many animal species, scientists realize genes are transferred between individuals within a generation at a higher rate than expected.

Fitness of Fish in an Acidifying World
As the oceans acidify due to climate change, scientists assess the ability of marine animals to adapt.

‘Sharing is caring’ in a marine archaea species
Single cell organisms found in highly salty marine waters share DNA with a variety of organisms including viruses and bacteria.

Does Evolution Occur in an Unchanging Environment?
New fossil evidence suggests a bacterial community has remained unchanged for two billion years.