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Lyme bacteria show that evolvability is evolvable

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Natural selection favours those with a greater capacity to generate genetic variation.

Some gamblers succeed by spiriting cards up their sleeves, giving them a wider range of hands to play. So do some bacteria, whose great capacity for genetic variability helps them evolve and adapt to rapidly changing environments.

Now research on Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, shows that the capacity to evolve can itself be the target of natural selection. The results were published today in PLoS Pathogens.

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