Long-term experimental evolution in Escherichia coli. X. Quantifying the fundamental and realized niche

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Background: Twelve populations of the bacterium, Escherichia coli, adapted to a simple, glucoselimited, laboratory environment over 10,000 generations. As a consequence, these populations tended to lose functionality on alternative resources. I examined whether these populations in turn became inferior competitors in four alternative environments. These experiments are among the first to quantify and compare dimensions of the fundamental and realized niches. Results: Three clones were isolated from each of the twelve populations after 10,000 generations of evolution. Direct competition between these clones and the ancestor in the selective environment revealed average fitness improvements of ~50%. When grown in the wells of Biolog plates, however, evolved clones grew 25% worse on average than the ancestor on a variety of different carbon sources. Next, I competed each evolved population versus the ancestor in four foreign environments (10-fold higher and lower glucose concentration, added bile salts, and dilute LB media). Surprisingly, nearly all populations were more fit than the ancestor in each foreign environment, though the margin of improvement was least in the most different environment. Most populations also evolved increased sensitivity to novobiocin. Conclusions: Reduced functionality on numerous carbon sources suggested that the fundamental niche of twelve E. coli populations had narrowed after adapting to a specific laboratory environment. However, in spite of these results, the same populations were competitively superior in four novel environments. These findings suggest that adaptation to certain dimensions of the environment may compensate for other functional losses and apparently enhance the realized niche. © 2002 Cooper; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.




Cooper, V. S. (2002). Long-term experimental evolution in Escherichia coli. X. Quantifying the fundamental and realized niche. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 2. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2148-2-12

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