Evolutionary biologists typically envision a trait’s genetic basis and fitness effects occurring within a single species. However, traits can be determined by and have fitness consequences for interacting species, thus evolving in multiple genomes. This is especially likely in mutualisms, where species exchange fitness benefits and can associate over long periods of time. Partners may experience evolutionary conflict over the value of a multi-genomic trait, but such conflicts may be ameliorated by mutualism’s positive fitness feedbacks. Here, we develop a simulation model of a host–microbe mutualism to explore the evolution of a multi-genomic trait. Coevolutionary outcomes depend on whether hosts and microbes have similar or different optimal trait values, strengths of selection and fitness feedbacks. We show that genome-wide association studies can map joint traits to loci in multiple genomes and describe how fitness conflict and fitness feedback generate different multi-genomic architectures with distinct signals around segregating loci. Partner fitnesses can be positively correlated even when partners are in conflict over the value of a multi-genomic trait, and conflict can generate strong mutualistic dependency. While fitness alignment facilitates rapid adaptation to a new optimum, conflict maintains genetic variation and evolvability, with implications for applied microbiome science.
This content will become publicly available on July 13, 2023
Phenotypic and genomic signatures of interspecies cooperation and conflict in naturally occurring isolates of a model plant symbiont
Given the need to predict the outcomes of (co)evolution in host-associated microbiomes, whether microbial and host fitnesses tend to trade-off, generating conflict, remains a pressing question. Examining the relationships between host and microbe fitness proxies at both the phenotypic and genomic levels can illuminate the mechanisms underlying interspecies cooperation and conflict. We examined naturally occurring genetic variation in 191 strains of the model microbial symbiont Sinorhizobium meliloti , paired with each of two host Medicago truncatula genotypes in single- or multi-strain experiments to determine how multiple proxies of microbial and host fitness were related to one another and test key predictions about mutualism evolution at the genomic scale, while also addressing the challenge of measuring microbial fitness. We found little evidence for interspecies fitness conflict; loci tended to have concordant effects on both microbe and host fitnesses, even in environments with multiple co-occurring strains. Our results emphasize the importance of quantifying microbial relative fitness for understanding microbiome evolution and thus harnessing microbiomes to improve host fitness. Additionally, we find that mutualistic coevolution between hosts and microbes acts to maintain, rather than erode, genetic diversity, potentially explaining why variation in mutualism traits persists in nature.
- Award ID(s):
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
More Like this
Host-Associated Rhizobial Fitness: Dependence on Nitrogen, Density, Community Complexity, and Legume GenotypeGlass, Jennifer B. (Ed.)ABSTRACT The environmental context of the nitrogen-fixing mutualism between leguminous plants and rhizobial bacteria varies over space and time. Variation in resource availability, population density, and composition likely affect the ecology and evolution of rhizobia and their symbiotic interactions with hosts. We examined how host genotype, nitrogen addition, rhizobial density, and community complexity affected selection on 68 rhizobial strains in the Sinorhizobium meliloti – Medicago truncatula mutualism. As expected, host genotype had a substantial effect on the size, number, and strain composition of root nodules (the symbiotic organ). The understudied environmental variable of rhizobial density had a stronger effect on nodule strain frequency than the addition of low nitrogen levels. Higher inoculum density resulted in a nodule community that was less diverse and more beneficial but only in the context of the more selective host genotype. Higher density resulted in more diverse and less beneficial nodule communities with the less selective host. Density effects on strain composition deserve additional scrutiny as they can create feedback between ecological and evolutionary processes. Finally, we found that relative strain rankings were stable across increasing community complexity (2, 3, 8, or 68 strains). This unexpected result suggests that higher-order interactions between strains are raremore »
Diversification of Type VI Secretion System Toxins Reveals Ancient Antagonism among Bee Gut MicrobesABSTRACT Microbial communities are shaped by interactions among their constituent members. Some Gram-negative bacteria employ type VI secretion systems (T6SSs) to inject protein toxins into neighboring cells. These interactions have been theorized to affect the composition of host-associated microbiomes, but the role of T6SSs in the evolution of gut communities is not well understood. We report the discovery of two T6SSs and numerous T6SS-associated Rhs toxins within the gut bacteria of honey bees and bumble bees. We sequenced the genomes of 28 strains of Snodgrassella alvi , a characteristic bee gut microbe, and found tremendous variability in their Rhs toxin complements: altogether, these strains appear to encode hundreds of unique toxins. Some toxins are shared with Gilliamella apicola , a coresident gut symbiont, implicating horizontal gene transfer as a source of toxin diversity in the bee gut. We use data from a transposon mutagenesis screen to identify toxins with antibacterial function in the bee gut and validate the function and specificity of a subset of these toxin and immunity genes in Escherichia coli . Using transcriptome sequencing, we demonstrate that S. alvi T6SSs and associated toxins are upregulated in the gut environment. We find that S. alvi Rhs loci have a conservedmore »
Abstract Experimental evolution allows the observation of change over time as laboratory populations evolve in response to novel, controlled environments. Microbial evolution experiments take advantage of cryopreservation to archive experimental populations in glycerol media, creating a frozen, living “fossil” record. Prior research with Escherichia coli has shown that cryopreservation conditions can affect cell viability and that allele frequencies across the genome can change in response to a freeze-thaw event. We expand on these observations by characterizing fitness and genomic consequences of multiple freeze-thaw cycles in diploid yeast populations. Our study system is a highly recombinant Saccharomyces cerevisiae population (SGRP-4X) which harbors standing genetic variation that cryopreservation may threaten. We also investigate the four parental isogenic strains crossed to create the SGRP-4X. We measure cell viability over 5 consecutive freeze-thaw cycles; while we find that viability increases over time in the evolved recombinant populations, we observe no such viability improvements in the parental strains. We also collect genome-wide sequence data from experimental populations initially, after one freeze-thaw, and after five freeze-thaw cycles. In the recombinant evolved populations, we find a region of significant allele frequency change on chromosome 15 containing the ALR1 gene. In the parental strains, we find little evidencemore »
McMahon, Katherine (Ed.)ABSTRACT Mobile genetic elements (MGEs) drive bacterial evolution, alter gene availability within microbial communities, and facilitate adaptation to ecological niches. In natural systems, bacteria simultaneously possess or encounter multiple MGEs, yet their combined influences on microbial communities are poorly understood. Here, we investigate interactions among MGEs in the marine bacterium Sulfitobacter pontiacus . Two related strains, CB-D and CB-A, each harbor a single prophage. These prophages share high sequence identity with one another and an integration site within the host genome, yet these strains exhibit differences in “spontaneous” prophage induction (SPI) and consequent fitness. To better understand mechanisms underlying variation in SPI between these lysogens, we closed their genomes, which revealed that in addition to harboring different prophage genotypes, CB-A lacks two of the four large, low-copy-number plasmids possessed by CB-D. To assess the relative roles of plasmid content versus prophage genotype on host physiology, a panel of derivative strains varying in MGE content were generated. Characterization of these derivatives revealed a robust link between plasmid content and SPI, regardless of prophage genotype. Strains possessing all four plasmids had undetectable phage in cell-free lysates, while strains lacking either one plasmid (pSpoCB-1) or a combination of two plasmids (pSpoCB-2 and pSpoCB-4)more »