Parallel genetic changes and nonparallel gene-environment interactions characterize the evolution of drug resistance in yeast

Genetics. 2012 Sep;192(1):241-52. doi: 10.1534/genetics.112.142620. Epub 2012 Jun 19.


Beneficial mutations are required for adaptation to novel environments, yet the range of mutational pathways that are available to a population has been poorly characterized, particularly in eukaryotes. We assessed the genetic changes of the first mutations acquired during adaptation to a novel environment (exposure to the fungicide, nystatin) in 35 haploid lines of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Through whole-genome resequencing we found that the genomic scope for adaptation was narrow; all adapted lines acquired a mutation in one of four late-acting genes in the ergosterol biosynthesis pathway, with very few other mutations found. Lines that acquired different ergosterol mutations in the same gene exhibited very similar tolerance to nystatin. All lines were found to have a cost relative to wild type in an unstressful environment; the level of this cost was also strongly correlated with the ergosterol gene bearing the mutation. Interestingly, we uncovered both positive and negative effects on tolerance to other harsh environments for mutations in the different ergosterol genes, indicating that these beneficial mutations have effects that differ in sign among environmental challenges. These results demonstrate that although the genomic target was narrow, different adaptive mutations can lead populations down different evolutionary pathways, with respect to their ability to tolerate (or succumb to) other environmental challenges.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / drug effects
  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics
  • Drug Resistance, Fungal / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene-Environment Interaction*
  • Genes, Fungal / genetics*
  • Mutation
  • Nystatin / pharmacology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / drug effects*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / physiology
  • Stress, Physiological / drug effects
  • Stress, Physiological / genetics


  • Nystatin