The emergence and maintenance of diversity: insights from experimental bacterial populations

Trends Ecol Evol. 2000 Jun;15(6):243-247. doi: 10.1016/s0169-5347(00)01871-1.


Mechanisms maintaining genetic and phenotypic variation in natural populations are central issues in ecology and evolution. However, the long generation times of most organisms and the complexity of natural environments have made elucidation of ecological and evolutionary mechanisms difficult. Experiments using bacterial populations propagated in controlled environments reduce ecosystem complexity to the point where understanding simple processes in isolation becomes possible. Recent studies reveal the circumstances and mechanisms that promote the emergence of stable polymorphisms.