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Science. 2006 Jul 28;313(5786):514-7. Epub 2006 Jul 6.

Clonal adaptive radiation in a constant environment.

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  • 1School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia.


The evolution of new combinations of bacterial properties contributes to biodiversity and the emergence of new diseases. We investigated the capacity for bacterial divergence with a chemostat culture of Escherichia coli. A clonal population radiated into more than five phenotypic clusters within 26 days, with multiple variations in global regulation, metabolic strategies, surface properties, and nutrient permeability pathways. Most isolates belonged to a single ecotype, and neither periodic selection events nor ecological competition for a single niche prevented an adaptive radiation with a single resource. The multidirectional exploration of fitness space is an underestimated ingredient to bacterial success even in unstructured environments.

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