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Title: Mutant Evolution in Spatially Structured and Fragmented Expanding Populations
Mutant evolution in spatially structured systems is important for a range of biological systems, but aspects of it still require further elucidation. Adding to previous work, we provide a simple derivation of growth laws that characterize the number of mutants of different relative fitness in expanding populations in spatial models of different dimensionalities. These laws are universal and independent of "microscopic" modeling details. We further study the accumulation of mutants and find that with advantageous and neutral mutants, more of them are present in spatially structured, compared to well-mixed colonies of the same size. The behavior of disadvantageous mutants is subtle: if they are disadvantageous through a reduction in division rates, the result is the same, and it is the opposite if the disadvantage is due to a death rate increase. Finally, we show that in all cases, the same results are observed in fragmented, non-spatial patch models. This suggests that the patterns observed are the consequence of population fragmentation, and not spatial restrictions per se. We provide an intuitive explanation for the complex dependence of disadvantageous mutant evolution on spatial restriction, which relies on desynchronized dynamics in different locations/patches, and plays out differently depending on whether the disadvantage is more » due to a lower division rate or a higher death rate. Implications for specific biological systems, such as the evolution of drug-resistant cell mutants in cancer or bacterial biofilms, are discussed. « less
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