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Adaptation, Clonal Interference, and Frequency-Dependent Interactions in a Long-Term Evolution Experiment with Escherichia coli
Twelve replicate populations of Escherichia coli have been evolving in the laboratory for more than 25 years and 60,000 generations. We analyzed bacteria from whole-population samples frozen every 500 generations through 20,000 generations for one well-studied population, called Ara???1. By tracking 42 known mutations in these samples, we reconstructed the history of this population???s genotypic evolution over this period. The evolutionary dynamics of Ara???1 show strong evidence of selective sweeps as well as clonal interference between competing lineages bearing different beneficial mutations. In some cases, sets of several mutations approached fixation simultaneously, often conveying no information about their order of origination; we present several possible explanations for the existence of these mutational cohorts. Against a backdrop of rapid selective sweeps both earlier and later, we found that two clades coexisted for over 6000 generations before one drove the other extinct. In that time, at least nine mutations arose in the clade that prevailed. We found evidence that the clades evolved a frequency-dependent interaction, which prevented the competitive exclusion of either clade, but which eventually collapsed as beneficial mutations accumulated in the clade that prevailed. Clonal interference and frequency dependence can occur even in the simplest microbial populations. Furthermore, frequency dependence may generate dynamics that extend the period of coexistence that would otherwise be sustained by clonal interference alone.
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