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Title: Parallel Evolution towards Increased Motility in Long-Term Cultures of Escherichia coli, Even Though Motility was Not Required for Long-Term Survival
ABSTRACT Escherichia coli can survive for long periods in batch culture in the laboratory, where they experience a stressful and heterogeneous environment. During this incubation, E. coli acquires mutations that are selected in response to this environment, ultimately leading to evolved populations that are better adapted to these complex conditions, which can lead to a better understanding of evolutionary mechanisms. Mutations in regulatory genes often play a role in adapting to heterogeneous environments. To identify such mutations, we examined transcriptional differences during log phase growth in unaged cells compared to those that had been aged for 10 days and regrown. We identified expression changes in genes involved in motility and chemotaxis after adaptation to long-term cultures. We hypothesized that aged populations would also have phenotypic changes in motility and that motility may play a role in survival and adaptation to long-term cultures. While aged populations did show an increase in motility, this increase was not essential for survival in long-term cultures. We identified mutations in the regulatory gene sspA and other genes that may contribute to the observed differences in motility. Taken together, these data provide an overall picture of the role of mutations in regulatory genes for adaptation while underscoring that all changes that occur during evolution in stressful environments are not necessarily adaptive. IMPORTANCE Understanding how bacteria adapt in long-term cultures aids in both better treatment options for bacterial infections and gives insight into the mechanisms involved in bacterial evolution. In the past, it has been difficult to study these organisms in their natural environments. By using experimental evolution in heterogeneous and stressful laboratory conditions, we can more closely mimic natural environments and examine evolutionary mechanisms. One way to observe these mechanisms is to look at transcriptomic and genomic data from cells adapted to these complex conditions. Here, we found that although aged cells increase motility, this increase is not essential for survival in these conditions. These data emphasize that not all changes that occur due to evolutionary processes are adaptive, but these observations could still lead to hypotheses about the causative mutations. The information gained here allow us to make inferences about general mechanisms underlying phenotypic changes due to evolution.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1715066
NSF-PAR ID:
10335643
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Editor(s):
Gao, Beile
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Microbiology Spectrum
ISSN:
2165-0497
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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