A Model Organism for Inquiry-based Undergraduate Laboratories

Inducing Evolution in Bean Beetles

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Synopsis

Demonstrating and measuring evolution in a laboratory environment with animal species is typically very challenging.  However, insects are among the most amenable species for such studies and the bean beetle,Callosobruchus maculatus, is the easiest species in which such studies may be conducted.  Bean beetles are agricultural pest insects of Africa and Asia.  Females lay their eggs on the surface of beans (Family Fabaceae) and the entire pre-adult parts of the life cycle occur inside the host bean.  In this study, students design and conduct experiments to evaluate whether evolution by natural selection (or alternatively, genetic drift) may be induced in laboratory populations.

Topic: Evolution and Natural Selection

Level: Introductory majors – Upper-level majors

Class time: one 2-3 hour class period, plus 1 hour class period two weeks later, and one 2-3 hour class period about 4 weeks later

Lawrence S. Blumer1 and Christopher W. Beck2

1Department of Biology, Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA 30314

2Department of Biology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322