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The impact of mistranslation on phenotypic variability and fitness

Cite this dataset

Samhita, Laasya et al. (2021). The impact of mistranslation on phenotypic variability and fitness [Dataset]. Dryad.


Phenotypic variation is widespread in natural populations, and can significantly alter their ecology and evolution. Phenotypic variation often reflects underlying genetic variation, but also manifests via non-heritable mechanisms. For instance, translation errors result in about 10% of cellular proteins carrying altered sequences. Thus, proteome diversification arising from translation errors can potentially generate phenotypic variability, in turn increasing variability in the fate of cells or of populations. However, the link between proteome diversity and phenotypic variability remains unverified. We manipulated mistranslation levels in Escherichia coli, and measured phenotypic variability between single cells (individual level variation), as well as replicate populations (population level variation). Monitoring growth and survival, we find that mistranslation indeed increases variation across E. coli cells, but does not consistently increase variability in growth parameters across replicate populations. Interestingly, although any deviation from the wild type (WT) level of mistranslation reduces fitness in an optimal environment, the increased variation is associated with a survival benefit under stress. Hence, we suggest that mistranslation-induced phenotypic variation can impact growth and survival and has the potential to alter evolutionary trajectories.


All method details are given in the manuscript.


Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance, Award: IA/E/14/1/501771

Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance, Award: IA/I/17/1/503091

Indian Council of Medical Research, Award: 3/1/3/JRF-2015

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Award: 37(1629)/14/EMR-II