The title says it all: today is the 27th birthday of the long-term evolution experiment (LTEE) with E. coli.
Well, the title doesn’t really say everything. I also want to give thanks to the many people—not to mention the trillions of bacteria—who have made it possible for the LTEE to keep on going and giving.
So thank you to all of the students, postdocs, and colleagues with whom I’ve collaborated on this project. There are too many to list here, but you will find their names on the papers that have come from the LTEE. I’ll call out just two, on this occasion, for special thanks. Dom Schneider has been an amazingly talented and generous collaborator for so many years—in fact, our first co-authored paper on the LTEE dates back to 1999. And Neerja Hajela has worked with me for 20 years now, and she is the most organized, dedicated, and all-around wonderful technician and lab manager that one could ever have.
Special thanks, too, to Madeleine Lenski, who has tolerated my long-term affair with the LTEE, and who wisely advised me to keep it going on one or two occasions when I was looking in other directions.
[The image below shows the abstract from the first paper on the LTEE, which appeared in The American Naturalist in 1991. It is reproduced here under the doctrine of fair use. Some of the conclusions have changed a bit as the LTEE has had more time and we’ve gathered more data—that’s science!]