Mutational adaptation of Escherichia coli to glucose limitation involves distinct evolutionary pathways in aerobic and oxygen-limited environments

Karen Manché, Lucinda Notley-McRobb, Thomas Ferenci*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Mutational adaptations leading to improved glucose transport were followed with Escherichia coli K-12 growing in glucose-limited continuous cultures. When populations were oxygen limited as well as glucose limited, all bacteria within 280 generations contained mutations in a single codon of the ptsG gene. V12F and V12G replacements in the enzyme IIBC(Glc) component of the glucose phosphotransferase system were responsible for improved transport. In stark contrast, ptsG mutations were uncommon in fully aerobic glucose-limited cultures, in which polygenic mutations in mgl, mlc, and malT (regulating an alternate high-affinity Mgl/LamB uptake pathway) spread through the adapted population. Hence the same organism adapted to the same selection (glucose limitation) by different evolutionary pathways depending on a secondary environmental factor. The clonal diversity in the adapted populations was also significantly different. The PtsG V12F substitution under O2 limitation contributed to a universal 'winner clone' whereas polygenic, multiallelic changes led to considerable polymorphism in aerobic cultures. Why the difference in adaptive outcomes? E. coli physiology prevented scavenging by the LamB/Mgl system under O2 limitation; hence, ptsG mutations provided the only adaptive pathway. But ptsG mutations in aerobic cultures are overtaken by mgl, mlc, and malT adaptations with better glucose- scavenging ability. Indeed, when an mglA::Tn10 mutant with an inactivated Mgl/LamB pathway was introduced into two independent aerobic chemostats, adaptation of the Mgl- strain involved the identical ptsG mutation found under O2-limited conditions with wild-type or Mgl- bacteria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-12
Number of pages8
JournalGenetics
Volume153
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1999
Externally publishedYes

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