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Evolutionary implications of Liebig's law of the minimum: Selection under low concentrations of two nonsubstitutable nutrients
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology. SUNY Stony Brook, Dept Ecol & Evolut, Stony Brook, NY 11794 USA.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3175-1184
SUNY Stony Brook, Dept Ecol & Evolut, Stony Brook, NY 11794 USA..
2017 (English)In: Ecology and Evolution, ISSN 2045-7758, E-ISSN 2045-7758, Vol. 7, no 14, 5296-5309 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Interactions between different axes of an organism's niche determine the evolutionary trajectory of a population. An extreme case of these interactions is predicted from ecological theory in Liebig's law of the minimum. This law states that in environments where multiple nutrients are in relatively low concentrations, only one nutrient will affect the growth of the organism. This implies that the evolutionary response of the population would be dictated by the most growth-limiting nutrient. Alternatively, it is possible that an initial adaptation to the most limiting nutrient results in other nutrients present in low concentration affecting the evolutionary dynamics of the population. To test these hypotheses, we conducted twelve evolution experiments in chemostats using Escherichia coli populations: four under nitrogen limitation, four under magnesium limitation, and four in which both nitrogen and magnesium are in low concentrations. In the last environment, only magnesium seems to limit growth (Low Nitrogen Magnesium Limited environment, LNML). We observe a decrease in nitrogen concentration in the LNML environment over the course of our evolution experiment indicating that nitrogen might become limiting in these environments. Genetic reconstruction results show that clones adapted to magnesium limitation have genes involved in nitrogen starvation, that is, glnG (nitrogen starvation transcriptional regulator) and amtB (transport protein) to be upregulated only in the LNML environment as compared to magnesium-limiting environments. Together, our results highlights that in low-nutrient environments, adaptation to the growth-limiting nutrient results in other nutrients at low concentrations to play a role in the evolutionary dynamics of the population.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 7, no 14, 5296-5309 p.
Keyword [en]
Escherichia coli, experimental evolution, Liebig, magnesium limitation, nitrogen limitation
National Category
Biological Sciences Ecology Evolutionary Biology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-332194DOI: 10.1002/ece3.3096ISI: 000406323100027PubMedID: 28770068OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-332194DiVA: diva2:1152845
Available from: 2017-10-26 Created: 2017-10-26 Last updated: 2017-11-02Bibliographically approved

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