Molecular Galapagos

An artificial ecosystem in a test-tube has been likened to the molecular equivalent of the Galapagos Islands by scientists at the Scripps Research Institute. The molecules in the system evolve to exploit distinct ecological niches, the team says. Sarah Voytek and her colleagues say using molecules rather than living organisms offers a robust way to study the forces of evolution because molecules replicating every few minutes take mere days to evolve rather than millennia.