Analysis of bacterial genomes from an evolution experiment with horizontal gene transfer shows that recombination can sometimes overwhelm selection
Lenski, Richard E.
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CitationMaddamsetti, Rohan, and Richard E. Lenski. 2018. “Analysis of bacterial genomes from an evolution experiment with horizontal gene transfer shows that recombination can sometimes overwhelm selection.” PLoS Genetics 14 (1): e1007199. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1007199. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1007199.
AbstractFew experimental studies have examined the role that sexual recombination plays in bacterial evolution, including the effects of horizontal gene transfer on genome structure. To address this limitation, we analyzed genomes from an experiment in which Escherichia coli K-12 Hfr (high frequency recombination) donors were periodically introduced into 12 evolving populations of E. coli B and allowed to conjugate repeatedly over the course of 1000 generations. Previous analyses of the evolved strains from this experiment showed that recombination did not accelerate adaptation, despite increasing genetic variation relative to asexual controls. However, the resolution in that previous work was limited to only a few genetic markers. We sought to clarify and understand these puzzling results by sequencing complete genomes from each population. The effects of recombination were highly variable: one lineage was mostly derived from the donors, while another acquired almost no donor DNA. In most lineages, some regions showed repeated introgression and others almost none. Regions with high introgression tended to be near the donors’ origin of transfer sites. To determine whether introgressed alleles imposed a genetic load, we extended the experiment for 200 generations without recombination and sequenced whole-population samples. Beneficial alleles in the recipient populations were occasionally driven extinct by maladaptive donor-derived alleles. On balance, our analyses indicate that the plasmid-mediated recombination was sufficiently frequent to drive donor alleles to fixation without providing much, if any, selective advantage.
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