Happy birthday, dear E. coli

Today is the 27th birthday of Richard Lenski’s long term E. coli evolution experiment (LTEE). Although my own time in Dr. Lenski’s lab was largely focused on other projects, I nevertheless was awed and honored to live in the presence of those 13 (now 14) little flasks for four years. The LTEE continues to inspire both me and others, and it’s also been the focal point for teaching my microbiology students about microbial evolution. Based on student responses via our weekly in-class “Tweets”, the Lenski experiment has been the most surprising and engaging topic they’ve covered so far this semester.

Who’s surprised by that? That’s the same effect it had on me when I first learned you could make things evolve in a test tube. The ultimate “gee-whiz” science.

So thanks Dr. Lenski, and happy birthday, LTEE!

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