The percentage of southwestern whiteflies infected with Rickettsia bacteria has skyrocketed; but this is not a boon for local farmers, as the bacterium actively helps the pest spread. This news brief examines how evolutionary theory accounts for this and how we might turn it in our favor.
UC Museum of Paleontology
This article includes a set of discussion and extension questions for use in class, as well as advanced discussion questions for undergraduates. It also includes hints about related lessons that might be used in conjunction with this one. Get more tips for using Evo in the News articles in your classroom.
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.
- Evolution results from natural selection acting upon genetic variation within a population.
- Over time, the proportion of individuals with advantageous characteristics may increase (and the proportion with disadvantageous characteristics may decrease) due to their likelihood of surviving and reproducing.
- Traits that confer an advantage may persist in the population and are called adaptations.
- Natural selection may favor individuals with one extreme value for a trait, shifting the average value of that trait in one direction over the course of many generations.
- Frequency-dependent selection preserves genetic variation in a population.
- An organism’s fitness depends on both its survival and its reproduction.
- As with other scientific disciplines, evolutionary biology has applications that factor into everyday life, for example in agriculture, biodiversity and conservation biology, and medicine and health.