Comparative genome sequencing of Escherichia coli allows observation of bacterial evolution on a laboratory timescale

Nat Genet. 2006 Dec;38(12):1406-12. doi: 10.1038/ng1906. Epub 2006 Nov 5.


We applied whole-genome resequencing of Escherichia coli to monitor the acquisition and fixation of mutations that conveyed a selective growth advantage during adaptation to a glycerol-based growth medium. We identified 13 different de novo mutations in five different E. coli strains and monitored their fixation over a 44-d period of adaptation. We obtained proof that the observed spontaneous mutations were responsible for improved fitness by creating single, double and triple site-directed mutants that had growth rates matching those of the evolved strains. The success of this new genome-scale approach indicates that real-time evolution studies will now be practical in a wide variety of contexts.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Culture Media
  • Directed Molecular Evolution*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development
  • Escherichia coli / physiology
  • Genome, Bacterial*
  • Genotype
  • Glycerol / metabolism
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Mutation
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Time Factors


  • Culture Media
  • Glycerol