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Temporal dynamics of bacteria-plasmid coevolution under antibiotic selection

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Publication details

JournalThe ISME Journal
DateAccepted/In press - 17 Aug 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 12 Sep 2018
DatePublished (current) - 1 Feb 2019
Issue number2
Number of pages4
Pages (from-to)559-562
Early online date12/09/18
Original languageEnglish


Horizontally acquired genes can be costly to express even if they encode useful traits, such as antibiotic resistance. We previously showed that when selected with tetracycline, Escherichia coli carrying the tetracycline-resistance plasmid RK2 evolved mutations on both replicons that together provided increased tetracycline resistance at reduced cost. Here we investigate the temporal dynamics of this intragenomic coevolution. Using genome sequencing we show that the order of adaptive mutations was highly repeatable across three independently evolving populations. Each population first gained a chromosomal mutation in ompF which shortened lag phase and increased tetracycline resistance. This was followed by mutations impairing the plasmid-encoded tetracycline efflux pump, and finally, additional resistance-associated chromosomal mutations. Thus, reducing the cost of the horizontally acquired tetracycline resistance was contingent on first evolving a degree of chromosomally encoded resistance. We conclude therefore that the trajectory of bacteria-plasmid coevolution was constrained to a single repeatable path.

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© The Author(s) 2018

    Research areas

  • Adaptation, Physiological/drug effects, Biological Coevolution, Escherichia coli/drug effects, Gene Transfer, Horizontal, Plasmids/genetics, Replicon, Selection, Genetic, Tetracycline Resistance/genetics, Tetracycline/pharmacology

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