Evolution Today?

Evolutionary changes are occurring all around us. In the news, we hear about new strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria such as “super bugs”. We have also learned that when we use the same pesticide for several years, it will no longer effectively treat the targeted insect. Like the bacteria, the insects changes over time because of selection which changes the genes or genome of the species over time. Our food crops have also changed overtime. These changes have caused our fruit and vegetables to change color and flavor as a result of our taste preferences. This focus on cultivating plants and raising livestock has caused many organisms to change over the last 12,000 years.

The purpose of this lesson is to research artificial selection. During this lesson, we will use fast growing plant crossing to model traditional agricultural practices and we will use Punnett squares to predict plant crossing outcomes. We will also use online simulations to learn about current biotechnology techniques used to make genetically modified crops. We will compare traditional agriculture to current biotechnology techniques that are being used to create pest resistant crops. We will discuss how artificial selection such as selective breeding and genetic engineering can impact organisms over time.

Author: Kelly Sears, 2014-15 Kenan Fellow

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