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Evolution. 2016 Feb;70(2):465-70. doi: 10.1111/evo.12849. Epub 2016 Jan 29.

Adaptation of Escherichia coli to glucose promotes evolvability in lactose.

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Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, 77204.
Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, 77204.


The selective history of a population can influence its subsequent evolution, an effect known as historical contingency. We previously observed that five of six replicate populations that were evolved in a glucose-limited environment for 2000 generations, then switched to lactose for 1000 generations, had higher fitness increases in lactose than populations started directly from the ancestor. To test if selection in glucose systematically increased lactose evolvability, we started 12 replay populations--six from a population subsample and six from a single randomly selected clone--from each of the six glucose-evolved founder populations. These replay populations and 18 ancestral populations were evolved for 1000 generations in a lactose-limited environment. We found that replay populations were initially slightly less fit in lactose than the ancestor, but were more evolvable, in that they increased in fitness at a faster rate and to higher levels. This result indicates that evolution in the glucose environment resulted in genetic changes that increased the potential of genotypes to adapt to lactose. Genome sequencing identified four genes--iclR, nadR, spoT, and rbs--that were mutated in most glucose-evolved clones and are candidates for mediating increased evolvability. Our results demonstrate that short-term selective costs during selection in one environment can lead to changes in evolvability that confer longer term benefits.


Adaptation; evolvability; experimental evolution

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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