Adaptation, chance, and history in experimental evolution reversals to unicellularity

María Rebolleda-Gómez, Michael Travisano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Evolution is often deemed irreversible. The evolution of complex traits that require many mutations makes their reversal unlikely. Even in simpler traits, reversals might become less likely as neutral or beneficial mutations, with deleterious effects in the ancestral context, become fixed in the novel background. This is especially true in changes that involve large reorganizations of the organism and its interactions with the environment. The evolution of multicellularity involves the reorganization of previously autonomous cells into a more complex organism; despite the complexity of this change, single cells have repeatedly evolved from multicellular ancestors. These repeated reversals to unicellularity undermine the generality of Dollo's law. In this article, we evaluated the dynamics of reversals to unicellularity from recently evolved multicellular phenotypes of the brewers yeast Saccharomyces cerevisae. Even though multicellularity in this system evolved recently, it involves the evolution of new levels of selection. Strong selective pressures against multicellularity lead to rapid reversibility to single cells in all of our replicate lines, whereas counterselection favoring multicellularity led to minimal reductions to the rates of reversal. History and chance played an important role in the tempo and mode of reversibility, highlighting the interplay of deterministic and stochastic events in evolutionary reversals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-83
Number of pages11
JournalEvolution
Volume73
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Keywords

  • Experimental evolution
  • historical contingency
  • multicellularity
  • natural selection
  • reversibility

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

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