Resource Availability and Competition Shape the Evolution of Survival and Growth Ability in a Bacterial Community

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Abstract

Resource availability is one of the main factors determining the ecological dynamics of populations or species. Fluctuations in resource availability can increase or decrease the intensity of resource competition. Resource availability and competition can also cause evolutionary changes in life-history traits. We studied how community structure and resource fluctuations affect the evolution of fitness related traits using a two-species bacterial model system. Replicated populations of Serratia marcescens (copiotroph) and Novosophingobium capsulatum (oligotroph) were reared alone or together in environments with intergenerational, pulsed resource renewal. The comparison of ancestral and evolved bacterial clones with 1 or 13 weeks history in pulsed resource environment revealed species-specific changes in life-history traits. Co-evolution with S. marcescens caused N. capsulatum clones to grow faster. The evolved S. marcescens clones had higher survival and slower growth rate then their ancestor. The survival increased in all treatments after one week, and thereafter continued to increase only in the S. marcescens monocultures that experienced large resource pulses. Though adaptive radiation is often reported in evolution studies with bacteria, clonal variation increased only in N. capsulatum growth rate. Our results suggest that S. marcescens adapted to the resource renewal cycle whereas N. capsulatum was more affected by the interspecific competition. Our results exemplify species-specific evolutionary response to both competition and environmental variation. © 2013 Pekkonen et al.

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Pekkonen, M., Ketola, T., & Laakso, J. T. (2013). Resource Availability and Competition Shape the Evolution of Survival and Growth Ability in a Bacterial Community. PLoS ONE, 8(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0076471

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