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J Evol Biol. 2007 Sep;20(5):1882-9.

Constraints on microbial metabolism drive evolutionary diversification in homogeneous environments.

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Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Bath, Bath, UK.


Understanding the evolution of microbial diversity is an important and current problem in evolutionary ecology. In this paper, we investigated the role of two established biochemical trade-offs in microbial diversification using a model that connects ecological and evolutionary processes with fundamental aspects of biochemistry. The trade-offs that we investigated are as follows:(1) a trade-off between the rate and affinity of substrate transport; and (2) a trade-off between the rate and yield of ATP production. Our model shows that these biochemical trade-offs can drive evolutionary diversification under the simplest possible ecological conditions: a homogeneous environment containing a single limiting resource. We argue that the results of a number of microbial selection experiments are consistent with the predictions of our model.

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