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Microb Ecol. 1999 Oct;38(3):191-200.

Application of Traditional and Phylogenetically Based Comparative Methods to Test for a Trade-off in Bacterial Growth Rate at Low versus High Substrate Concentration.

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  • 1Center for Microbial Ecology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA


Abstract It is often hypothesized that those organisms that are superior competitors for sparse resources fare poorly in competition for abundant resources, and vice versa. If there is indeed such a systematic trade-off, then this has important implications for the choice of bacterial strains in bioremediation and other applications. We studied seven bacterial strains that can grow on either 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetate (2,4-D) or succinate as a sole source of carbon. Growth rates were measured on each substrate at both low (5 µg/ml) and high (500 µg/ml) concentrations. We used two different methods to test the significance of correlations among growth rates, a traditional method that treats each strain as an independent observation and a newer method that takes into account phylogenetic relationships between strains, thereby avoiding spurious correlations caused by a lack of statistical independence of strains. In both 2,4-D and succinate, we observed significant positive correlations between growth rates measured at high and low substrate concentrations by the traditional comparative method. No significant correlations were detected after adjusting for the phylogenetic relationships among the strains. In neither case did we observe the negative correlation expected from a trade-off between growth rates at high and low substrate levels.</hea

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