Recombination Alters the Dynamics of Adaptation on Standing Variation in Laboratory Yeast Populations

Mol Biol Evol. 2018 Jan 1;35(1):180-201. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msx278.


The rates and selective effects of beneficial mutations, together with population genetic factors such as population size and recombination rate, determine the outcomes of adaptation and the signatures this process leaves in patterns of genetic diversity. Previous experimental studies of microbial evolution have focused primarily on initially clonal populations, finding that adaptation is characterized by new strongly selected beneficial mutations that sweep rapidly to fixation. Here, we study evolution in diverse outcrossed yeast populations, tracking the rate and genetic basis of adaptation over time. We combine time-serial measurements of fitness and allele frequency changes in 18 populations of budding yeast evolved at different outcrossing rates to infer the drivers of adaptation on standing genetic variation. In contrast to initially clonal populations, we find that adaptation is driven by a large number of weakly selected, linked variants. Populations undergoing different rates of outcrossing make use of this selected variation differently: whereas asexual populations evolve via rapid, inefficient, and highly variable fixation of clones, sexual populations adapt continuously by gradually breaking down linkage disequilibrium between selected variants. Our results demonstrate how recombination can sustain adaptation over long timescales by inducing a transition from selection on genotypes to selection on individual alleles, and show how pervasive linked selection can affect evolutionary dynamics.

Keywords: evolve and resequence; experimental evolution; linkage disequilibrium; polygenic adaptation; standing genetic variation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization
  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics*
  • Alleles
  • Biological Evolution
  • Directed Molecular Evolution / methods
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Frequency / genetics
  • Genetic Variation / genetics
  • Genetics, Population / methods
  • Linkage Disequilibrium / genetics
  • Models, Genetic
  • Multifactorial Inheritance / genetics
  • Mutation
  • Mutation Rate
  • Population Density
  • Recombination, Genetic / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Selection, Genetic / genetics