Is it possible to manipulate coevolving communities to directly test how feedback influences adaptation? Focusing on E. coli and bacteriophage for this project, we're building custom continuous culture devices that enable experiments that were previously intractable.
We've recently started using emulsion populations in the lab, where cells are distributed into millions of isolated media droplets surrounded by an immiscible oil phase. For our first project with these emulsions, we're testing how selection reverses thousands of generations of adaptation to an environment favoring faster and faster growth -- Richard Lenski's LTEE.
With relatively inexpensive consumer grade equipment, it's now possible to rapidly customize tools for particular experiments. For example, we are 3D printing unique culture devices, milling custom microscope slides, and building electronics with full-fledged microprocessors for less than you would expect to spend on morning coffee.