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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Jan 16;98(2):525-30. Epub 2001 Jan 9.

Genetic architecture of thermal adaptation in Escherichia coli.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-2525, USA.


Elucidating the genetic basis of adaptation on a genomewide scale has evaded biologists, but complete genome sequences and DNA high-density array technology make genomewide surveys more tractable. Six lines of Escherichia coli adapted for 2,000 generations to a stressful high temperature of 41.5 degrees C were examined on a genomewide scale for duplication/deletion events by using DNA high-density arrays. A total of five duplication and deletion events were detected. These five events occurred in three of the six lines, whereas the remaining three lines contained no detectable events. Three of the duplications were at 2.85 Mb of the E. coli chromosome, providing evidence for the replicability of the adaptation to high temperature. Four candidate genes previously shown to play roles in stress and starvation survival were identified in the region of common duplication. Expression of the two candidate genes examined is elevated over expression levels in the ancestral lines or the lines without the duplication. In the two cases where the duplication at 2.85 Mb has been further characterized, the timing of the genome reorganization is coincident with significant increases in relative fitness. In both of these cases, the model for the origin of the duplication is a complex recombination event involving insertion sequences and repeat sequences. These results provide additional evidence for the idea that gene duplication plays an integral role in adaptation, specifically as a means for gene amplification.

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