@swamidass I don’t know if you saw this down below but I think it’s brilliant, If you are confident of this 10^-10 frequency for obtaining beta lactamase activity, even better than wild type, then here’s a way to prove it.
@Rumraket, you gave me the idea. If you are sure of the abzyme result then go into the lab, prepare large trays, lots of them, with ampicillin. It has to be fresh because it loses half its activity every day. Then plate about 5 x 10^10 bacteria that lack resistance to ampicillin. You can start with a half dose if you want. What do think? Will 5 of them spontaneously discover a new way to break down ampicillin? No?
Gosh, there have to be a bunch of enzymes from the beta lactamase structural family in there already. Surely one of them…
Well, it will be tricky proving it’s not a contaminant, so use really good sterile technique, and be ready to determine sequence and structure for a beta lactamase!
Oh wait. If it was this easy. somebody would have done it already. Does that tell you anything?