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Physiological Characterization of Adaptive Clones in Evolving Populations of the Yeast, SACCHAROMYCES CEREVISIAE

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  • Investigations
  • Biology
  • Mathematics


Populations of a diploid strain of S. cerevisiae were grown in glucose-limited continuous culture for more than 260 generations. A series of seven sequential adaptive changes were identified by monitoring the frequency of cycloheximide resistance in these populations. Samples were taken from the continuous cultures following each adaptive shift and characterized physiologically to determine (1) the range of phenotypes that can be selected in a precisely defined constant environment and (2) the order and predictability of the occurrence of the adaptive mutations in evolving populations. The clones were characterized with respect to the growth parameters, maximum growth rate, saturation coefficient and yield, as well as for changes in cell size and geometry and rate of glucose uptake. The maximum growth rates of the seven adaptive clones were very similar, but in contrast the saturation coefficients differed substantially. Surprisingly, not all clones showed reductions in the saturation coefficients, in comparison to the immediately preceding clones, as would be predicted from classical continuous culture kinetics. In addition, yield estimates first increased and then decreased for later isolated adaptive clones. In general, the results suggest epistatic interactions between the adaptive clones, consistent with earlier published results. The rate of glucose uptake, as measured by 14Cxylose uptake, increased dramatically after the selection and fixation of seven adaptive clones. Progressive decreases in cell volume and changes in cell geometry, resulting in increased surface area to volume ratios, were also observed in the adaptive clones, but these changes were not always seen in other haploid and diploid yeast populations evolving under the same conditions. Such changes may be easily explainable in terms of the characteristics of the glucose-limited environment. The significance of the results to the evolution of microorganisms under nutrient-limiting conditions is discussed.

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