Studying adaptation in real time
Experimental evolution is study of evolution in real time. The method normally involves culturing replicate populations of study species in highly controlled laboratory environment in defined media or in more natural environments such as soil microcosms or plant rhizosphere for hundreds to thousands of generations. Microorganisms, such as bacteria, have inherently large population sizes and short generation times that favour rapid evolution. Species can be further cryopreserved indefinitely, which allows direct comparisons between evolved, ancestral and control populations at both phenotypic and genetic level. Microorganisms are also important on their own right as symbionts, disease agents and play important role for the functioning of ecosystems.