The process of evolution by natural selection has been known for a century and a half, yet the mechanics of selection are still poorly understood. In most cases where natural selection has been studied, the genetic and physiological bases of fitness variation that result in population changes were not identified, leaving only a partial understanding of selection. Starved cultures of the bacterium Escherichia coli present a model system with which to address the genetic and physiological bases of natural selection. This is a model system that also reflects the prevalent state of bacteria in the natural world; due to intense competition for nutrients, microorganisms spend the majority of their lives under starvation conditions. Genetic analyses of a single survivor of starvation identified four adaptive mutations(1). Investigation of these mutations has revealed insights into the molecular and physiological bases of evolution during prolonged starvation stress.