Extensive fine-scale genetic diversity is found in many microbial species across varied environments, but for most, the evolutionary scenarios that generate the observed variation remain unclear. Deep sequencing of a thermophilic cyanobacterial population and analysis of the statistics of synonymous single-nucleotide polymorphisms revealed a high rate of homologous recombination and departures from neutral drift consistent with the effects of genetic hitchhiking. A sequenced isolate genome resembled an unlinked random mixture of the allelic diversity at the sampled loci. These observations suggested a quasisexual microbial population that occupies a broad ecological niche, with selection driving frequencies of alleles rather than whole genomes.
Copyright © 2015, American Association for the Advancement of Science.