Adaptation through genetic time travel? Fluctuating selection can drive the evolution of bacterial transformation

Engelstädter, Jan and Moradigaravand, Danesh (2013) Adaptation through genetic time travel? Fluctuating selection can drive the evolution of bacterial transformation. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281 1775: . doi:10.1098/rspb.2013.2609


Author Engelstädter, Jan
Moradigaravand, Danesh
Title Adaptation through genetic time travel? Fluctuating selection can drive the evolution of bacterial transformation
Journal name Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0962-8452
1471-2954
Publication date 2013-11-27
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1098/rspb.2013.2609
Open Access Status
Volume 281
Issue 1775
Total pages 7
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher The Royal Society Publishing
Collection year 2014
Language eng
Abstract Natural transformation is a process whereby bacteria actively take up DNA from the surrounding environment and incorporate it into their genome. Natural transformation is widespread in bacteria, but its evolutionary significance is still debated. Here, we hypothesize that transformation may confer a fitness advantage in changing environments through a process we term 'genetic time travel': by taking up old genes that were retained in the environment, the bacteria may revert to a past genotypic state that proves advantageous in the present or a future environment. We scrutinize our hypothesis by means of a mathematical model involving two bacterial types (transforming and non-transforming), a single locus under natural selection and a free DNA pool. The two bacterial types were competed in environments with changing selection regimes. We demonstrate that for a wide range of parameter values for the DNA turnover rate, the transformation rate and the frequency of environmental change, the transforming type outcompetes the non-transforming type. We discuss the empirical plausibility of our hypothesis, as well as its relationship to other hypotheses for the evolution of transformation in bacteria and sex more generally, speculating that 'genetic time travel' may also be relevant in eukaryotes that undergo horizontal gene transfer.
Keyword Bacterial evolution
Environmental change
Fluctuating selection
Horizontal gene transfer
Natural transformation
Recombination
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
 
Versions
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 4 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 1 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Tue, 10 Dec 2013, 00:37:40 EST by System User on behalf of School of Biological Sciences