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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Bacterial adaptation is constrained in complex communities
Author(s): Scheuerl, Thomas
Hopkins, Meirion
Nowell, Reuben W
Rivett, Damian W
Barraclough, Timothy G
Bell, Thomas
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Keywords: General Physics and Astronomy
General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
General Chemistry
Issue Date: 6-Feb-2020
Date Deposited: 17-Apr-2024
Citation: Scheuerl T, Hopkins M, Nowell RW, Rivett DW, Barraclough TG & Bell T (2020) Bacterial adaptation is constrained in complex communities. <i>Nature Communications</i>, 11, Art. No.: 754.
Abstract: A major unresolved question is how bacteria living in complex communities respond to environmental changes. In communities, biotic interactions may either facilitate or constrain evolution depending on whether the interactions expand or contract the range of ecological opportunities. A fundamental challenge is to understand how the surrounding biotic community modifies evolutionary trajectories as species adapt to novel environmental conditions. Here we show that community context can dramatically alter evolutionary dynamics using a novel approach that ‘cages’ individual focal strains within complex communities. We find that evolution of focal bacterial strains depends on properties both of the focal strain and of the surrounding community. In particular, there is a stronger evolutionary response in low-diversity communities, and when the focal species have a larger genome and are initially poorly adapted. We see how community context affects resource usage and detect genetic changes involved in carbon metabolism and inter-specific interaction. The findings demonstrate that adaptation to new environmental conditions should be investigated in the context of interspecific interactions.
DOI Link: 10.1038/s41467-020-14570-z
Rights: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
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