The acquisition of foreign genes by HGT potentially greatly speeds up adaptation by allowing faster evolution of beneficial traits. The evolutionary integration of novel genes into host gene expression and physiology is critical for adaptation by HGT, but remains largely unknown. We are exploring the evolutionary consequences of gene acquisition in populations of Escherichia coli in real time. A plasmid bearing the genes necessary for sucrose catabolism was constructed and introduced into a single E. coli genotype. Wild-type E. coli is generally incapable of utilizing sucrose, but E. coli transformants were able to grow on sucrose as a sole carbon and energy source, albeit poorly. Twelve replicate populations were initiated and propagated in sucrose minimal media for 300 generations. Over this time, we observed large fitness improvements in the selected environment. These results demonstrate the potential for HGT to substantially increase microbial niche breadth.