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Data from: Rapid evolution of adaptive niche construction in experimental microbial populations


Callahan, Benjamin J.; Fukami, Tadashi; Fisher, Daniel S. (2014), Data from: Rapid evolution of adaptive niche construction in experimental microbial populations, Dryad, Dataset,


Many species engage in adaptive niche construction: modification of the local environment that increases the modifying organism's competitive fitness. Adaptive niche construction provides an alternative pathway to higher fitness, shaping the environment rather than conforming to it. Yet, experimental evidence for the evolutionary emergence of adaptive niche construction is lacking, leaving its role in evolution uncertain. Here we report a direct observation of the de novo evolution of adaptive niche construction in populations of the bacteria Pseudomonas fluorescens. In a laboratory experiment, we allowed several bacterial populations to adapt to a novel environment and assessed whether niche construction evolved over time. We found that adaptive niche construction emerged rapidly, within approximately 100 generations, and became ubiquitous after approximately 400 generations. The large fitness effect of this niche construction was dominated by the low fitness of evolved strains in the ancestrally modified environment: evolved niche constructors were highly dependent on their specific environmental modifications. Populations were subjected to frequent resetting of environmental conditions and severe reduction of spatial habitat structure, both of which are thought to make adaptive niche construction difficult to evolve. Our finding that adaptive niche construction nevertheless evolved repeatably suggests that it may play a more important role in evolution than generally thought.

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