[Funded by the Origins Center]
Evolutionary biology can play an important role in solving some of the major challenges mankind faces today, such as: the development of bacterial resistance, resistance to pesticides, outbreaks of new diseases, and the adaptation of species to urbanisation and climate change. It will also become easier to promote biodiversity.
Researchers are therefore working on predicting the evolution of multicellular life through experiments with earthworms – at multiple universities. The worms are presented with a negative change the must cope with. There are three possible evolutionary paths for the worms to take in the experiment. Subsequently, researchers observe whether the worms take the same evolutionary steps under the same conditions.
This project brings together theoretical and experimental scientists. Researchers working on digital and robotic evolution are also involved. Together they explore ways to predict evolution from the very beginning.
The project is a joint effort of a large number of research groups in the Netherlands and Belgium, who bring both experimental work and theoretical expertise to the project. The project was started by Meike Wortel and Ken Kraaijeveld, based at the Astrid Groot group at the University of Amsterdam. Principal investigators are Karen Bisschop en Thomas Blankers (group Astrid Groot, University of Amsterdam).