Journal Article Evolutionary Consequence of a Trade-Off between Growth and Maintenance along with Ribosomal Damages

Ying, Bei-Wen  ,  Honda, Tomoya  ,  Tsuru, Saburo  ,  Seno, Shigeto  ,  Matsuda, Hideo  ,  Kazuta, Yasuaki  ,  Yomo, Tetsuya

10 ( 8 )  , p.e0135639 , 2015-08 , Public Library of Science
Microorganisms in nature are constantly subjected to a limited availability of resources and experience repeated starvation and nutrition. Therefore, microbial life may evolve for both growth fitness and sustainability. By contrast, experimental evolution, as a powerful approach to investigate microbial evolutionary strategies, often targets the increased growth fitness in controlled, steady-state conditions. Here, we address evolutionary changes balanced between growth and maintenance while taking nutritional fluctuations into account. We performed a 290-day-long evolution experiment with a histidine-requiring Escherichia coli strain that encountered repeated histidine-rich and histidine-starved conditions. The cells that experienced seven rounds of starvation and re-feed grew more sustainably under prolonged starvation but dramatically lost growth fitness under rich conditions. The improved sustainability arose from the evolved capability to use a trace amount of histidine for cell propagation. The reduced growth rate was attributed to mutations genetically disturbing the translation machinery, that is, the ribosome, ultimately slowing protein translation. This study provides the experimental demonstration of slow growth accompanied by an enhanced affinity to resources as an evolutionary adaptation to oscillated environments and verifies that it is possible to evolve for reduced growth fitness. Growth economics favored for population increase under extreme resource limitations is most likely a common survival strategy adopted by natural microbes.

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