Can anyone recommend me an experimental study which tries to test the predictability of evolution? The closest works I found are the studies of fluctuation tests (f.e. classical study of Luria & Delbrück, 1943) which demonstrates that in bacteria, genetic mutations arise in the absence of selection, rather than being a response to selection. Is there any other point of view from which the predictability of evolution can be studied?

Luria & Delbrück (1943) Mutations of bacteria from virus sensitivity to virus resistance. Genetics 28: 491–511.


closed as unclear what you're asking by Remi.b, AliceD, James, March Ho, The Last Word Oct 29 '15 at 9:44

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  • $\begingroup$ What does "intentionally occuring mutations" even mean? $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Oct 27 '15 at 14:43
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    $\begingroup$ Hi @fileunderwater! Thank you for your comment. My question has been rephrased for better clarity. $\endgroup$ – Ladislav Naďo Oct 27 '15 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ There are things we are good at predicting and things we are not good at. Predictability of evolution is too a vast subject. You should refine it to a specific evolutionary process. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Oct 28 '15 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ Are you interested in determining our predicitve power of a given evolutionary process or in demonstrating that mutations don't occur in response but is a (mainly) independent process? I think I don't fully understand your question. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Oct 28 '15 at 15:51
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you @Remi.b for your comments. The reason for this question is that laymens often ask whether the "evolution has some final goal" (and then stops). I was just wondering, if such question could be tested by some simple experiment (simple enough for approx. 12 years old kids). $\endgroup$ – Ladislav Naďo Oct 29 '15 at 8:00

I think Lenski's evolutionary long-term experiment should be a good example, without being familiar with Luria & Delbrück (1943). There they use replicated populations of E-coli to study (among other things) the "repeatability" (historical contingency) of evolutionary changes. Nice overviews of the project are given in Blount et al. (2008) and Philippe et al (2008), where they study to what extent certain mutations are repeated in replicate populations, in relation to citrate metabolism and size/shape.


  • $\begingroup$ I second this. I think with a Galaxy account, you could do the alignments and SNP calling yourself, if you so desired. $\endgroup$ – swbarnes2 Oct 27 '15 at 16:39

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