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Biosystems. 2012 Apr-Jun;108(1-3):34-44. doi: 10.1016/j.biosystems.2012.01.001. Epub 2012 Jan 9.

The impact of interspecific competition on lineage evolution and a rapid peak shift by interdemic genetic mixing in experimental bacterial populations.

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Public Works Research Institute, Japan.


Epistatic interactions between genes in the genome constrain the accessible evolutionary paths of lineages. Two factors involving epistasis that can affect the evolutionary path and fate of lineages were investigated. The first factor concerns the impact of competition with another species lineage that has different epistatic constraints. Five enteric bacterial populations were evolved by point mutation in medium containing a single limiting resource. Single-species and two-species cultures were used to determine whether different asexual lineages have different capacities for producing variants due to epistatic constraints, and whether their survival is determined by local inter-lineage competition with different species. Local inter-lineage competition quickly resulted in one successful lineage, with another lineage becoming extinct before finding a higher peak. The second factor concerns a peak-shifting process, and whether the sexual recombination between different demes can cause peak shifts was investigated. An Escherichia coli population consisting of a male (Hfr) and female strain (F(-)) was evolved in a single limiting resource and compared to evolving populations containing the male or female strain alone. The E. coli sexual lineage was successful due to its ability to escape lower peaks and reach a higher peak, not because of a rapid approach to the nearest local peak the male or female asexual lineage could reach. The data in this study demonstrate that lineage survivability can be determined by the ability to produce beneficial mutations and checked by local competition between lineages of different species. Interspecific competition may prevent a population from evolving through crossing fitness valleys or adaptive ridges if it requires many generations to achieve peak shifts. The data also show that genomic recombination between different conspecific lineages can rapidly carry the combined lineage to a higher peak.

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