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Proc Biol Sci. 2008 Feb 7;275(1632):277-84.

The genetic basis of parallel and divergent phenotypic responses in evolving populations of Escherichia coli.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.


Pleiotropy plays a central role in theories of adaptation, but little is known about the distribution of pleiotropic effects associated with different adaptive mutations. Previously, we described the phenotypic effects of a collection of independently arising beneficial mutations in Escherichia coli. We quantified their fitness effects in the glucose environment in which they evolved and their pleiotropic effects in five novel resource environments. Here we use a candidate gene approach to associate the phenotypic effects of the mutations with the underlying genetic changes. Among our collection of 27 adaptive mutants, we identified a total of 21 mutations (18 of which were unique) encompassing five different loci or gene regions. There was limited resolution to distinguish among loci based on their fitness effects in the glucose environment, demonstrating widespread parallelism in the direct response to selection. However, substantial heterogeneity in mutant effects was revealed when we examined their pleiotropic effects on fitness in the five novel environments. Substitutions in the same locus clustered together phenotypically, indicating concordance between molecular and phenotypic measures of divergence.

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