Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli, as the intestinal organisms are known, are merging into a single species, the April 11th issue of the journal Science reports.
FOX News says the researchers who authored the report think the marriage of the creatures represents a profound example of how people can affect evolution
"What we’re seeing here is hybridization, and it’s only been recently acknowledged as an important part of evolution," said Samuel Sheppard, an evolutionary microbiologist at Oxford University in England. "It’s really exciting stuff."
FOX News describes the evolutionary history this way:
C. jejuni and C. coli are thought to have shared a common ancestor, or parent, in the ancient past.
When the microbial descendent split up and evolutionary pressures stepped in, two new species began to take shape and fill different niches within the guts of wild chickens, pigs and other animals.
Although the definition of a species is one of the most hotly debated topics among biologists, Sheppard said the two microbes are strikingly different, despite sharing about 85 percent of their genetic code.
See the entire FOX News story here.