University of Bath paper nominated as Nature research highlight

A paper written by Robert Beardmore, Ivana Gudelj, from the University of Exeter, along with David Lipson San Diego State University in the US and Laurence Hurst from Bath’s Department of Biology & Biochemistry, has been nominated as a Research Highlight by Nature Reviews Genetics.

The accolade highlights the significance of their paper ‘Metabolic trade-offs and the maintenance of the fittest and the flattest’, recently published in Nature, which calls into question Darwin’s notion that only the fittest survive.

The paper challenges our current understanding of evolution by showing that biodiversity may evolve where previously thought impossible.

The work represents a new approach to studying evolution that may eventually lead to a better understanding of the diversity of bacteria that cause human diseases.

Conventional wisdom has it that for any given niche there should be a best species, the fittest, that will eventually dominate to exclude all others.

This is the principle of survival of the fittest. Ecologists often call this idea the `competitive exclusion principle’ and it predicts that complex environments are needed to support complex, diverse populations.

The research found that in bacteria if the mutation rate is high enough, both the fit an unfit can be maintained, showing that Darwin’s notion that only the fittest survive is not completely accurate.

Professor Laurence Hurst, of the University of Bath, said: “I am thrilled with the accolade of this paper being nominated as a Research Highlight. The nomination reflects the significance of this research and is an honour to the whole research group.”

The Research Highlight article can be seen on the Nature website.

For more details about the research please see either the University of Bath press release, or the Nature paper.

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