Phenotypic convergence in bacterial adaptive evolution to ethanol stress

BMC Evol Biol. 2015 Sep 3;15:180. doi: 10.1186/s12862-015-0454-6.


Background: Bacterial cells have a remarkable ability to adapt to environmental changes, a phenomenon known as adaptive evolution. During adaptive evolution, phenotype and genotype dynamically changes; however, the relationship between these changes and associated constraints is yet to be fully elucidated.

Results: In this study, we analyzed phenotypic and genotypic changes in Escherichia coli cells during adaptive evolution to ethanol stress. Phenotypic changes were quantified by transcriptome and metabolome analyses and were similar among independently evolved ethanol tolerant populations, which indicate the existence of evolutionary constraints in the dynamics of adaptive evolution. Furthermore, the contribution of identified mutations in one of the tolerant strains was evaluated using site-directed mutagenesis. The result demonstrated that the introduction of all identified mutations cannot fully explain the observed tolerance in the tolerant strain.

Conclusions: The results demonstrated that the convergence of adaptive phenotypic changes and diverse genotypic changes, which suggested that the phenotype-genotype mapping is complex. The integration of transcriptome and genome data provides a quantitative understanding of evolutionary constraints.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution*
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype


  • Ethanol