A bacterial metapopulation adapts locally to phage predation despite global dispersal

Genome Res. 2008 Feb;18(2):293-7. doi: 10.1101/gr.6835308. Epub 2007 Dec 12.


Using a combination of bacterial and phage-targeted metagenomics, we analyzed two geographically remote sludge bioreactors enriched in a single bacterial species Candidatus Accumulibacter phosphatis (CAP). We inferred unrestricted global movement of this species and identified aquatic ecosystems as the primary environmental reservoirs facilitating dispersal. Highly related and geographically remote CAP strains differed principally in genomic regions encoding phage defense mechanisms. We found that CAP populations were high density, clonal, and nonrecombining, providing natural targets for "kill-the-winner" phage predation. Community expression analysis demonstrated that phages were consistently active in the bioreactor community. Genomic signatures linking CAP to past phage exposures were observed mostly between local phage and host. We conclude that CAP strains disperse globally but must adapt to phage predation pressure locally.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological / genetics*
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Bacteria / virology*
  • Bacteriophages / genetics*
  • Base Sequence
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Demography
  • Gene Components
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny*
  • Population Dynamics
  • Queensland
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sewage / microbiology*
  • Wisconsin


  • Sewage