Chapter 11

An Evolving Enemy


11.1 Return of an Ancient Killer

§ Tuberculosis has infected humans for 1000s of years

§ Evidence of TB has been found in Egyptian mummies

§ Hippocrates described a TB-like condition

§ In 1906, TB accounted for 2 out of every 1000 deaths in the U.S.


§ TB is caused by bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis

§ 2 billion people carry TB

§ New infections occur at rate of 1 per second

§ TB causes roughly 2 million deaths per year


§ Symptoms of TB include:

§ Cough that produces blood

§ Fever

§ Fatigue

§ Period of wasting – patient becomes weaker and thinner

§ Led to calling the disease “consumption”


§ Consumptive symptoms occur because of damage to lung tissues.


§ Transmission of TB occurs through the air, from infected individuals

§ A single sneeze can contain 40,000 droplets, all containing infectious bacteria


§ 19th and early 20th century – treatment consisted of “sanitariums”

§ Discovery of antibiotics revolutionized TB treatment

§ Since the 1980s, scientists have noticed an increase in TB that is resistant to antibiotics.

§ Because of resistance to antibiotics, the number of TB cases worldwide is increasing.


11.2 Natural Selection Causes Evolution

§ Darwin discussed two ideas in Origin: Common descent and natural selection

§ Natural selection is considered to be the primary cause of evolution

§ Other factors include genetic drift and sexual selection


11.2 Natural Selection Causes Evolution - Four Observations and an Inference

§ Natural selection is an inference based on four observations

1.  Individuals within populations vary

2. Some of the variation within individuals can be passed on to their offspring

3. Populations of organisms produce more offspring than will survive

4. Survival and reproduction are not random


1.  Individuals within populations vary.

§ This is true of human and non-human populations.

§ Variation can include traits other than appearance, such as blooming time in flowers.


2. Some of the variation within individuals can be passed on to their offspring.

§ Darwin noticed that animal breeders could get exaggerated traits through selective breeding.


3. Populations of organisms produce more offspring than will survive.

§ Even slow-breeding animals can produce large populations quickly.


4. Survival and reproduction are not random

§ Fitness: Relative survival and reproduction of one variant

§ Adaptation: Traits that increase individual fitness in an environment

§ Individuals with adaptations for a particular environment are more likely to survive and reproduce


§ Survival and reproduction are not random.


§ Adaptations do not only affect survival. 

§ A flower’s reproduction is impacted by traits that affect the number of pollinators it receives.

§ Therefore, color or nectar production might be adaptations.


11.2 Natural Selection Causes Evolution - Darwin’s Inference: Natural Selection Causes Evolution

§ Result of natural selection

§ Favorable inherited variations tend to increase in frequency

§ Unfavorable variations tend to be lost

§ End result is a change in the traits of individuals in a population over generations


11.2 Natural Selection Causes Evolution - Testing Natural Selection

§ Artificial Selection: Selection imposed by human choice

§ Breeds of pigeons studied by Darwin arose through artificial selection

§ Breeds of dog have been artificially selected by humans


§ In laboratory, environmental conditions can be manipulated and effects on population examined

§ Scientists examined alcohol metabolism in fruit flies

§ All animals have enzymes to metabolize alcohol

§ Variations in ability to metabolize alcohol exist in populations


§  Natural selection in wild populations

§  Many examples exist:

§ Evolution of resistance of M. tuberculosis to antibiotics

§ Many other disease-causing pathogens have also evolved resistance

§ Galapagos finches provide another classic example


11.3 Natural Selection Since Darwin - The Modern Synthesis

§ The union of genetics and evolution is called “the modern synthesis

§ Knowledge of genetics facilitates understanding of the mechanisms of evolution

§ Alleles are the basis of variation of traits

§ Mutations can create new alleles and provide the basis for new traits

§ Natural selection provides a filter that selects for or against new traits


11.3 Natural Selection Since Darwin - The Modern Synthesis

§ Mutation and natural selection


11.3 Natural Selection Since Darwin - Overview: The Subtleties of Natural Selection

§  Common misconceptions about natural selection


10.3 Natural Selection Since Darwin - A Closer Look: Subtleties of Natural Selection

§ Natural selection cannot cause new traits to arise

§ Not an issue of choice or “will” of organisms

§ Selection can act on variations that already exist

§ In fly example, alcohol-rich environment did not cause gene to arise, differential survival caused allele to become more common


§ Natural selection does not result in perfection

§ Natural selection does cause organisms to become a better fit to their environment

§ Organisms are not necessarily “better”, just better fit to a particular situation

§ Adaptation that is beneficial in one situation might be a liability in another

§ Adaptations are trade-offs between better fit in one situation versus another


§ Adaptations are constrained by underlying biology

§ Result is “jury-rigged design”

§ Example is panda’s “thumb”

§ Actually grown from wrist bones

§ Not as efficient as opposable thumb


§ Natural selection does not cause progression towards a goal

§ Natural selection favors variants with the most appropriate adaptations for current environment

§ Organisms do not choose to change or adapt

§ Natural selection depends on the situation of the population


11.3 Natural Selection Since Darwin - Patterns of Selection

§ Different environmental conditions can lead to different changes in populations

§ Directional selection – change in population traits

§ Stabilizing selection – selection for the average traits

§ Diversifying selection – selection for extremes


11.4 Natural Selection and Human Health - Tuberculosis Fits Darwin’s Observations

§ Mycobacterium tuberculosis has evolved resistance to antibiotics because it fulfills the same observations Darwin made

§ Bacteria in the population vary

§ Variation can be passed on to offspring

§ More bacteria are produced than survive

§ Bacterial survival is not random


11.4 Natural Selection and Human Health - Selecting for Drug Resistance

§ Simple antibiotic treatment can result in directional selection in bacteria.


11.4 Natural Selection and Human Health - Stopping Drug Resistance

§ Combination therapy is a powerful tool against drug resistance.


11.4 Natural Selection and Human Health - Can Natural Selection Save Us From Superbugs

§ If bacteria can evolve resistance to antibiotics, can humans evolve resistance to bacteria?

§ Humans do vary in their immune capacity

§ To evolve resistance to superbugs would require many humans to die

§ Evolution of resistance requires exposure to pathogens, most humans are never exposed

§ Natural selection has also resulted in our brains, giving us another tool to fight disease