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Genomic and phenotypic signatures of bacteriophage coevolution with the phytopathogen Pseudomonas syringae


Hernandez, Catherine et al. (2023), Genomic and phenotypic signatures of bacteriophage coevolution with the phytopathogen Pseudomonas syringae, Dryad, Dataset,


The rate and trajectory of evolution in an obligate parasite is critically dependent on those of its host(s). Adaptation to a genetically homogeneous host population should theoretically result in specialization, while adaptation to an evolving host population (i.e., coevolution) can result in various outcomes including diversification, range expansion, and/or local adaptation. For viruses of bacteria (bacteriophages, or phages), our understanding of how evolutionary history of the bacterial host(s) impacts viral genotypic and phenotypic evolution is currently limited. In this study, we used whole genome sequencing and two different metrics of phage impacts to compare the genotypes and phenotypes of lytic phages that had either coevolved with or were repeatedly passaged on an unchanging (ancestral) strain of the phytopathogen Pseudomonas syringae. Genomes of coevolved phages had more mutations than those of phages passaged on a constant host, and most mutations were in genes encoding phage tail-associated proteins. Phages from both passaging treatments shared some phenotypic outcomes, including range expansion and divergence across replicate populations, but coevolved phages were more efficient at reducing population growth (particularly of sympatric coevolved hosts). Genotypic similarity correlated with infectivity profile similarity in coevolved phages, but not in phages passaged on the ancestral host. Overall, while adaptation to either host type (coevolving or ancestral) led to divergence in phage tail proteins and infectivity patterns, coevolution led to more rapid molecular changes that increased bacterial killing efficiency and had more predictable effects on infectivity range. Together, these results underscore the important role of hosts in driving viral evolution and in shaping the genotype-phenotype relationship.


National Science Foundation, Award: DGE 1752814

Hellman Fellows Program

Gettysburg College