As compensações da mutação genética conduzem à evolução paralela

sábado, maio 27, 2017

Environment determines evolutionary trajectory in a constrained phenotypic space

David T Fraebel Harry Mickalide Diane Schnitkey Jason Merritt Thomas E Kuhlman Seppe Kuehn 

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States

Published March 27, 2017

Cite as eLife 2017;6:e24669

Source/Fonte: The Economist


Constraints on phenotypic variation limit the capacity of organisms to adapt to the multiple selection pressures encountered in natural environments. To better understand evolutionary dynamics in this context, we select Escherichia coli for faster migration through a porous environment, a process which depends on both motility and growth. We find that a trade-off between swimming speed and growth rate constrains the evolution of faster migration. Evolving faster migration in rich medium results in slow growth and fast swimming, while evolution in minimal medium results in fast growth and slow swimming. In each condition parallel genomic evolution drives adaptation through different mutations. We show that the trade-off is mediated by antagonistic pleiotropy through mutations that affect negative regulation. A model of the evolutionary process shows that the genetic capacity of an organism to vary traits can qualitatively depend on its environment, which in turn alters its evolutionary trajectory.

eLife digest

In nature organisms face many challenges, and species adapt to their environment by changing heritable traits over the course of many generations. How organisms adapt is often limited by trade-offs, in which improving one trait can only come at the expense of another.

In the laboratory, scientists use well-controlled environments to study how populations adapt to specific challenges without interference from their natural habitat. Most experiments, however, only look at simple challenges and do not take into account that organisms in the wild face many pressures at the same time. Fraebel et al. wanted to know what happens when an organism’s performance depends on two traits that are restricted by a trade-off. The experiments used populations of the bacterium Escherichia coli, which can go through hundreds of generations in a week, providing ample opportunity to study mutations and their impact on heritable traits.

Through a combination of mathematical modeling and experiments, Fraebel et al. found that the environment is crucial for determining how bacteria adapt when their swimming speed and population growth rate are restricted by a trade-off. When nutrients are plentiful, E. coli populations evolve to spread faster by swimming more quickly despite growing more slowly. Yet, if nutrients are scarcer, the bacteria evolve to spread faster by growing more quickly despite swimming more slowly. In each scenario, the experiments identified single mutations that changed both swimming speed and growth rate by modifying regulatory activity in the cell.

A better understanding of how an organism’s genetic architecture, its environment and trade-offs are connected may help identify the traits that are most easily changed by mutations. The ultimate goal would be to be able to predict evolutionary responses to complex selection pressures.