1. Ecology
  2. Microbiology and Infectious Disease
Download icon

Adaptability of non-genetic diversity in bacterial chemotaxis

Research Article
  • Cited 58
  • Views 3,737
  • Annotations
Cite this article as: eLife 2014;3:e03526 doi: 10.7554/eLife.03526

Abstract

Bacterial chemotaxis systems are as diverse as the environments that bacteria inhabit, but how much environmental variation can cells tolerate with a single system? Diversification of a single chemotaxis system could serve as an alternative, or even evolutionary stepping-stone, to switching between multiple systems. We hypothesized that mutations in gene regulation could lead to heritable control of chemotactic diversity. By simulating foraging and colonization of Escherichia coli using a single-cell chemotaxis model, we found that different environments selected for different behaviors. The resulting trade-offs show that populations facing diverse environments would ideally diversify behaviors when time for navigation is limited. We show that advantageous diversity can arise from changes in the distribution of protein levels among individuals, which could occur through mutations in gene regulation. We propose experiments to test our prediction that chemotactic diversity in a clonal population could be a selectable trait that enables adaptation to environmental variability.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Nicholas W Frankel

    Yale University, New Haven, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. William Pontius

    Yale University, New Haven, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Yann S Dufour

    Yale University, New Haven, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Junjiajia Long

    Yale University, New Haven, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Luis Hernandez-Nunez

    Yale University, New Haven, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Thierry Emonet

    Yale University, New Haven, United States
    For correspondence
    thierry.emonet@yale.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Eve Marder, Brandeis University, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: May 30, 2014
  2. Accepted: September 28, 2014
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: October 3, 2014 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: October 28, 2014 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2014, Frankel et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

Metrics

  • 3,737
    Page views
  • 555
    Downloads
  • 58
    Citations

Article citation count generated by polling the highest count across the following sources: Crossref, Scopus, PubMed Central.

Download links

A two-part list of links to download the article, or parts of the article, in various formats.

Downloads (link to download the article as PDF)

Download citations (links to download the citations from this article in formats compatible with various reference manager tools)

Open citations (links to open the citations from this article in various online reference manager services)

Further reading

    1. Ecology
    Claudia Zeiträg, Ivo Jacobs
    Insight

    Eurasian jays fail to take into account the point of view and desire of other jays when hiding food they can eat later.

    1. Ecology
    2. Microbiology and Infectious Disease
    Matt Lloyd Jones et al.
    Research Article

    Common garden experiments that inoculate a standardised growth medium with synthetic microbial communities (i.e. constructed from individual isolates or using dilution cultures) suggest that the ability of the community to resist invasions by additional microbial taxa can be predicted by the overall community productivity (broadly defined as cumulative cell density and/or growth rate). However, to the best of our knowledge, no common garden study has yet investigated the relationship between microbial community composition and invasion resistance in microcosms whose compositional differences reflect natural, rather than laboratory-designed, variation. We conducted experimental invasions of two bacterial strains (Pseudomonas fluorescens and Pseudomonas putida) into laboratory microcosms inoculated with 680 different mixtures of bacteria derived from naturally occurring microbial communities collected in the field. Using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing to characterise microcosm starting composition, and high-throughput assays of community phenotypes including productivity and invader survival, we determined that productivity is a key predictor of invasion resistance in natural microbial communities, substantially mediating the effect of composition on invasion resistance. The results suggest that similar general principles govern invasion in artificial and natural communities, and that factors affecting resident community productivity should be a focal point for future microbial invasion experiments.