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Science. 2016 Dec 9;354(6317):1301-1304. Epub 2016 Nov 24.

Ecological speciation of bacteriophage lambda in allopatry and sympatry.

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Division of Biology, University of California San Diego (UCSD), La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.
Department of Biology, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA.
Department of Biology, Loyola University Chicago, 1032 West Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60660, USA.
Division of Biology, University of California San Diego (UCSD), La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.
Department of Physics, UCSD, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.
Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.


Understanding the conditions that allow speciation to occur is difficult because most research has focused on either long-lived organisms or asexual microorganisms. We propagated bacteriophage λ, a virus with rapid generations and frequent recombination, on two Escherichia coli host genotypes that expressed either the LamB or OmpF receptor. When supplied with either single host (allopatry), phage λ improved its binding to the available receptor while losing its ability to use the alternative. When evolving on both hosts together (sympatry), the viruses split into two lineages with divergent receptor preferences. Although the level of divergence varied among replicates, some lineages evolved reproductive isolation via genetic incompatibilities. This outcome indicates that, under suitable conditions, allopatric and sympatric speciation can occur with similar ease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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