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PLoS Genet. 2011 Jun;7(6):e1002107. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002107. Epub 2011 Jun 16.

Trade-off between bile resistance and nutritional competence drives Escherichia coli diversification in the mouse gut.

Author information

1
INSERM, U989, Université Paris Descartes, Paris, France. marianne.depaepe@gmail.fr

Abstract

Bacterial diversification is often observed, but underlying mechanisms are difficult to disentangle and remain generally unknown. Moreover, controlled diversification experiments in ecologically relevant environments are lacking. We studied bacterial diversification in the mammalian gut, one of the most complex bacterial environments, where usually hundreds of species and thousands of bacterial strains stably coexist. Herein we show rapid genetic diversification of an Escherichia coli strain upon colonisation of previously germ-free mice. In addition to the previously described mutations in the EnvZ/OmpR operon, we describe the rapid and systematic selection of mutations in the flagellar flhDC operon and in malT, the transcriptional activator of the maltose regulon. Moreover, within each mouse, the three mutant types coexisted at different levels after one month of colonisation. By combining in vivo studies and determination of the fitness advantages of the selected mutations in controlled in vitro experiments, we provide evidence that the selective forces that drive E. coli diversification in the mouse gut are the presence of bile salts and competition for nutrients. Altogether our results indicate that a trade-off between stress resistance and nutritional competence generates sympatric diversification of the gut microbiota. These results illustrate how experimental evolution in natural environments enables identification of both the selective pressures that organisms face in their natural environment and the diversification mechanisms.

PMID:
21698140
PMCID:
PMC3116916
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pgen.1002107
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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