Selection in a cyclical environment: Possible impact of phenotypic lag on Darwinian fitness

Amy M. Suiter, Antony M. Dean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

We investigated the effect of generation time (as controlled by chemostat flow rate) and temporal variability in nutrient (arginine) availability on selection at a regulatory locus in Escherichia coli. We first determined the fitness conferred by argR K12 (which regulates the arginine regulon) relative to argR B (a weak constitutive) in constant environments at several generation times across a range of concentrations of arginine. The relative fitness of argR K12 with respect to argR B declines with longer generation times in the absence of arginine yet becomes independent of generation time in the presence of excess arginine. Control experiments show this differential response in selection is entirely attributable to transcriptional regulation by argR K12 . Temporal variability in the supply of arginine generates fluctuations in selection. A simple model, based on the assumption that relative fitness tracks changes in arginine availability instantaneously, captures many of the features of the oscillating allele frequencies and accurately predicts the direction and intensity of selection in environments where arginine concentrations fluctuate frequently or infrequently. However, the model fails to predict the direction and intensity of selection in environments that fluctuate at moderate frequencies. This suggests that phenotypic lag, wherein cellular physiology changes more slowly than the environment, may be influencing the outcome of competition in this experimental system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-170
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Molecular Evolution
Volume61
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2005

Keywords

  • Cyclical environment
  • Darwinian fitness
  • Escherichia coli
  • Generation time
  • Phenotypic lag
  • Selection
  • Temporal variability
  • argR

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