Environmental change influences the pathway to the evolution of antibiotic resistance

Observed changes in (a) global average surface temperature; (b) global average sea level from tide gauge (blue) and satellite (red) data; and (c) Northern Hemisphere snow cover for March-April. All differences are relative to corresponding averages for the period 1961-1990. (IPCC 2007)

Observed environmental changes. All differences are relative to corresponding averages for the period 1961-1990. (IPCC 2007)

How will populations respond rapidly changing environmental conditions? We’ve all seen the imagery of the polar bears surrounded by thawing ice sheets, but this isn’t just a problem of the environmentally concerned. The rate of environmental change may be dramatic and making economically relevant impacts on our everyday lives. It seems obvious to scientists that global change is occurring (IPCC 2007). How do organisms respond, not just on an ecological basis, but also in an evolutionary sense? Microbe based experiments can help us understand the evolutionary processes that come into play in rapidly changing environments.

A recent paper (Lindsey et al., 2013) does just this…

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Friday Coffee Break

Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

From Sarah: Have humans pushed the planetary environment headed toward a “tipping point” of rapid change? Very possibly.
“Everything that happened the last time around is happening now, only more of it,” said [UC Berkelely paleoecologist Anthony] Barnosky of the last ice age’s end and ongoing changes to Earth’s climate and biosphere. “I think the evidence makes it pretty clear that another critical transition or tipping point is very plausible within the next century.”
From CJ: America’s “brainiest” cities, calculated. Well, okay, then:
5. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose
6. Cedar Rapids-Waterloo-Iowa City & Dubuque, Iowa
7. Honolulu
8. Johnstown-Altoona, Pennsylvania
9. Champaign & Springfield-Decatur, Illinois
10. Minneapolis-St. Paul
11. Boston-Manchester (Massachusetts/New Hampshire)
12. Austin
13. Rochester, New York
And from Noah: Video of a cockroach’s preferred method of escape, which has inspired robot design.