RRC ID 66208
Author Neves HI, Machado GT, Ramos TCDS, Yang HM, Yagil E, Spira B.
Title Competition for nutritional resources masks the true frequency of bacterial mutants.
Journal BMC Biol
Abstract BACKGROUND:It is widely assumed that all mutant microorganisms present in a culture are able to grow and form colonies, provided that they express the features required for selection. Unlike wild-type Escherichia coli, PHO-constitutive mutants overexpress alkaline phosphatase and hence can hydrolyze glycerol-2-phosphate (G2P) to glycerol and form colonies on plates having G2P as the sole carbon source. These mutations mostly occur in the pst operon. However, the frequency of PHO-constitutive colonies on the G2P selective plate is exceptionally low.
RESULTS:We show that the rate in which spontaneous PHO-constitutive mutations emerge is about 8.0 × 10-6/generation, a relatively high rate, but the growth of most existing mutants is inhibited by their neighboring wild-type cells. This inhibition is elicited only by non-mutant viable bacteria that can take up and metabolize glycerol formed by the mutants. Evidence indicates that the few mutants that do form colonies derive from microclusters of mutants on the selective plate. A mathematical model that describes the fate of the wild-type and mutant populations under these circumstances supports these results.
CONCLUSION:This scenario in which neither the wild-type nor the majority of the mutants are able to grow resembles an unavoidable "tragedy of the commons" case which results in the collapse of the majority of the population. Cooperation between rare adjacent mutants enables them to overcome the competition and eventually form mutant colonies. The inhibition of PHO-constitutive mutants provides an example of mutant frequency masked by orders of magnitude due to a competition between mutants and their ancestral wild-type cells. Similar "tragedy of the commons-like" cases may occur in other settings and should be taken into consideration while estimating true mutant frequencies and mutation rates.
Volume 18(1)
Pages 194
Published 2020-12-14
DOI 10.1186/s12915-020-00913-1
PII 10.1186/s12915-020-00913-1
PMID 33317515
PMC PMC7737367
MeSH Escherichia coli / genetics Escherichia coli / physiology* Microbial Interactions* Mutation* Nutrients / physiology
IF 6.765
Prokaryotes E. coli Keio collection BW25113 JW0427-KC JW5702-KC JW2410-KC JW3778-KC JW2235-KC JW2236-KC JW2237-KC JW3389-KC JW3898-KC JW3897-KC JW3386-KC JW2233-KC JW2234-KC JW3896-KC JW0374-KC