Why and how did life become so diverse? This has been a central problem in biology. Experimental Evolution and the Nature of Biodiversity explores how diversity evolves in microbial populations that occupy some of the simplest environments imaginable, laboratory test tubes. Microbial evolution experiments allow researchers to watch the evolutionary process unfold in real time while tracking diversification in both phenotype and genotype along the way. When combined with new insights coming from next-generation sequencing, these experiments can tell us much more about the sorts of problems and questions related to adaptation and diversity.
1. Introduction: The problem of biodiversity
2. Experimental evolution and tests of evolutionary theory
SECTION 1: ADAPTATION
3. Adaptation: An introduction
4. Adaptation to a single environment
5. Divergent selection
6. Selection in variable environments
7. Genomics of adaptation
SECTION 2: DIVERSIFICATION
8. Diversification: An introduction
9. The evolution of phenotypic disparity
10. Rate and extent of diversification
11. Adaptive radiation
12. Genomics of diversification
13. The Nature of Biodiversity
Rees Kassen is Professor and University Research Chair in Experimental Evolution at the University of Ottawa. He completed his PhD at McGill University and did postodoctoral work at the University of Oxford, UK. His research interests focus on understanding the origins and fate of biodiversity, using microbes as models. He is also actively involved in science policy, currently serving as co-chair of the Global Young Academy, an international academy of early-career researchers acting as the voice of young scientists around the world. He is also past chair of the Partnership Group for Science and Engineering, an association of 26 professional and scientific organizations acting on behalf of over 50,000 members from academia, industry, and government in Canada.
" [...] a triumph! This [book] will be as important as Endler on selection in the wild, or Burt and Trivers on selfish genetic elements – it will become the foundation document for the whole burgeoning field."
– Graham Bell, McGill University
"An enthusiastic and articulate analysis of what the excitement is all about in microbial studies of experimental evolution, how this approach has advanced our understanding of the mechanisms of adaptation and diversification, and what it offers by way of new tests of the most promising theories."
– Dolph Schluter, University of British Columbia
"Rees Kassen is one of the leaders in the dynamic field of experimental evolution. His book is a masterful synthesis of what can be learned about evolution in model systems composed of experimentally tractable microbes. He illuminates new insights about genetics and ecology that underlie the processes of biological diversification, not just in microbes, but potentially in all living things."
– Peter Morin, Rutgers University
"An authoritative and insightful synthesis of laboratory studies on microbes and how they have advanced, and will continue to advance, our understanding of the evolutionary process."
– Jonathan Losos, Harvard University
"Rees Kassen's timely and informative book is a thorough and fascinating survey of evolution in the microbiology lab, and what it can tell us about how the glorious diversity of life arose. It is also, unlike much science, beautifully written."
– William Hanage, Harvard School of Public Health
"This book is a comprehensive review of experimental evolution that is wonderful to read. By synthesizing data across many studies, Kassen presents fascinating results that are likely to spur research in evolutionary biology for years to come."
– Luke Harmon, University of Idaho
"Rees Kassen makes the full scope of experimental evolution research on microbes accessible to a general audience. His arguments for the generality, and possible limitations, of the scope of evolution that is accessible through microbial research are complete and convincing to the point where I feel it really is possible to develop some understanding of the history of life from the perspective of microbes in test tubes."
– David Reznick, University of California, Riverside