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Describe Andersson and Hughes' study of Muller's ratchet in bacteria.

Biology
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Describe Andersson and Hughes' study of Muller's ratchet in bacteria. What features of their populations might have increased the effect of Muller's ratchet?

Oct 31st, 2014

  Andersson and Miller allowed 444 cultures of bacteria to grow for two months, with one bottleneck every day during which each culture was reduced to a single individual. The combination of asexual reproduction with frequent population bottlenecks was expected to cause Muller's ratchet to operate, i.e., accumulation of deleterious mutations and consequently reduced fitness. At the end of the two months, representing roughly 1700 generations and roughly 60 bottlenecks, all cultures were compared to the wild-type strain. 5% of the experimental cultures had reduced fitness (reduced growth rate) and none had increased fitness, so the result was consistent with Muller's ratchet. But since, Muller's ratchet takes a very large number of generations to have an appreciable effect - and even then the effect is small - it is not thought to be the major process favoring sexual reproduction

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Oct 31st, 2014

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