|Born||August 13, 1956|
|Institutions||Michigan State University
University of California, Irvine
|Alma mater||University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
|Thesis||Effects of competition and disturbance on ground beetle populations (1982)|
|Known for||E. coli long-term evolution experiment|
|Notable awards||MacArthur Fellowship|
Richard E. Lenski is the son of sociologist Gerhard Lenski and poet Jean Lenski. He is also the great-nephew of children's author Lois Lenski and the great-grandson of Lutheran commentator Richard C. H. Lenski. He earned his BA from Oberlin College in 1976, and his PhD from the University of North Carolina in 1982.
Lenski is a fellow at the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds the office Hannah Distinguished Professor of microbial ecology at Michigan State University.
On February 17, 2010, he co-founded the NSF Science and Technology Center for the Study of Evolution in Action, known as the BEACON Center. In August 2013, having been inspired by a presentation by Titus Brown on the role of social media in science, Lenski began blogging at Telliamed Revisited and tweeting as @RELenski.
E. coli experiment
The E. coli long-term evolution experiment is an ongoing study in experimental evolution led by Richard Lenski that has been tracking genetic changes in 12 initially identical populations of asexual Escherichia coli bacteria since 24 February 1988. The populations reached the milestone of 50,000 generations in February 2010[update].
Since the experiment's inception, Lenski and his colleagues have reported a wide array of genetic changes; some evolutionary adaptations have occurred in all 12 populations, while others have only appeared in one or a few populations. One particularly striking adaption was the evolution of a strain of E. coli that was able to use citric acid as a carbon source in an aerobic environment.
Richard Lenski, Charles Ofria, et al. at Michigan State University developed an artificial life computer program with the ability to detail the evolution of complex systems. The system uses values set to determine random mutations and allows for the effect of natural selection to conserve beneficial traits. The program was dubbed Avida and starts with an artificial petri dish where organisms reproduce and perform mathematical calculations to acquire rewards of more computer time for replication. The program randomly adds mutations to copies of the artificial organisms to allow for natural selection. As the artificial life reproduced, different lines adapted and evolved depending on their set environments. The beneficial side to the program is that it parallels that of real life at rapid speeds. Criticism of the conclusions drawn from the experiment exist including that no new traits were introduced by the process but rather existing genetic traits were switched on and off (Andrew Fabich PhD, Liberty University).
- "Richard Lenski". Michigan State University. 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-17.
- Campbell, Neil A.; Reece, Jane B. Biology (7 ed.). pp. 538–539. ISBN 0-8053-7146-X.
- Richard Lenski (August 19, 2013). "Welcome to Telliamed Revisited".
- Lenski, Richard E. (2000). "Source of founding strain". Richard E. Lenski Homepage. Michigan State University. Retrieved 2008-06-18.
- Blount, Zachary D.; Borland, Christina Z.; Lenski, Richard E. (2008). "Historical contingency and the evolution of a key innovation in an experimental population of Escherichia coli". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105 (23): 7899–906. Bibcode:2008PNAS..105.7899B. doi:10.1073/pnas.0803151105. JSTOR 25462703. PMC 2430337. PMID 18524956.
- Lenski, R. E.; Ofria, C.; Pennock, R. T.; Adami, C. (2003). "The evolutionary origin of complex features". Nature 423: 139–144. Bibcode:2003Natur.423..139L.
- "Digital organisms used to confirm evolutionary process". American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 2011-03-21.
- "Artificial life experiments show how complex functions can evolve". American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 2011-03-21.
- Richard E. Lenski, Charles Ofria, Claus O. Wilke, Jia Lan Wang, & Christoph Adami (2001-07-19). "Evolution of digital organisms at high mutation rates leads to survival of the flattest". Nature 412 (6844): 331–3. Bibcode:2001Natur.412..331W. doi:10.1038/35085569. PMID 11460163.
- E. coli Long-term Experimental evolution site
- BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action
- News release from Michigan State University
- The Loom : A New Step In Evolution