Volume 91 Issue 1 | p. 5 | Letters
Issue Date: January 7, 2013

Directed Evolution A Misnomer

Department: Letters

The article title “An Advance in Directed Evolution” is apparently a misnomer (C&EN, Oct. 29, 2012, page 10). The second paragraph states: “In directed evolution, researchers iteratively modify genes (and their corresponding proteins) and select variants with desired improvements.” Admittedly, the microorganisms undergo mutations and recombinations, but researchers are the ones controlling the selections for desired modifications.

Evolution is defined as a natural process whereby a product of change has attained some degree of complexity relative to its initial state. However, the only naturalistic feature of these procedures is changes in the microorganisms, which are their natural functions. They are still the same organisms with different acquired traits.

Obviously no evolution is involved in these procedures, so the term directed evolution is a misnomer. Intervention by researchers nullifies evolution as the mechanism involved in attaining the end results.

Edward A. Boudreaux
Thornton, Colo.

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