ABSTRACT: Microbial ecologists and systematists are challenged to discover the early ecological changes that drive the splitting of one bacterial population into two ecologically distinct populations. We have aimed to identify newly divergent lineages ("ecotypes") bearing the dynamic properties attributed to species, with the rationale that discovering their ecological differences would reveal the ecological dimensions of speciation. To this end, we have sampled bacteria from the Bacillus subtilis-Bacillus licheniformis clade from sites differing in solar exposure and soil texture within a Death Valley canyon. Within this clade, we hypothesized ecotype demarcations based on DNA sequence diversity, through analysis of the clade's evolutionary history by Ecotype Simulation (ES) and AdaptML. Ecotypes so demarcated were found to be significantly different in their associations with solar exposure and soil texture, suggesting that these and covarying environmental parameters are among the dimensions of ecological divergence for newly divergent Bacillus ecotypes. Fatty acid composition appeared to contribute to ecotype differences in temperature adaptation, since those ecotypes with more warm-adapting fatty acids were isolated more frequently from sites with greater solar exposure. The recognized species and subspecies of the B. subtilis-B. licheniformis clade were found to be nearly identical to the ecotypes demarcated by ES, with a few exceptions where a recognized taxon is split at most into three putative ecotypes. Nevertheless, the taxa recognized do not appear to encompass the full ecological diversity of the B. subtilis-B. licheniformis clade: ES and AdaptML identified several newly discovered clades as ecotypes that are distinct from any recognized taxon.
Project description:Closely related bacterial genomes usually differ in gene content, suggesting that nearly every strain in nature may be ecologically unique. We have tested this hypothesis by sequencing the genomes of extremely close relatives within a recognized taxon and analyzing the genomes for evidence of ecological distinctness. We compared the genomes of four Death Valley isolates plus the laboratory strain W23, all previously classified as Bacillus subtilis subsp. spizizenii and hypothesized through multilocus analysis to be members of the same ecotype (an ecologically homogeneous population), named putative ecotype 15 (PE15). These strains showed a history of positive selection on amino acid sequences in 38 genes. Each of the strains was under a different regimen of positive selection, suggesting that each strain is ecologically unique and represents a distinct ecological speciation event. The rate of speciation appears to be much faster than can be resolved with multilocus sequencing. Each PE15 strain contained unique genes known to confer a function for bacteria. Remarkably, no unique gene conferred a metabolic system or subsystem function that was not already present in all the PE15 strains sampled. Thus, the origin of ecotypes within this clade shows no evidence of qualitative divergence in the set of resources utilized. Ecotype formation within this clade is consistent with the nanoniche model of bacterial speciation, in which ecotypes use the same set of resources but in different proportions, and genetic cohesion extends beyond a single ecotype to the set of ecotypes utilizing the same resources.
Project description:Past analyses of sequence diversity in high-resolution protein-encoding genes have identified putative ecological species of unicellular cyanobacteria in the genus Synechococcus, which are specialized to 60°C but not 65°C in Mushroom Spring microbial mats. Because these studies were limited to only two habitats, we studied the distribution of Synechococcus sequence variants at 1°C intervals along the effluent flow channel and at 80-?m vertical-depth intervals throughout the upper photic layer of the microbial mat. Diversity at the psaA locus, which encodes a photosynthetic reaction center protein (PsaA), was sampled by PCR amplification, cloning, and sequencing methods at 60, 63, and 65°C sites. The evolutionary simulation programs Ecotype Simulation and AdaptML were used to identify putative ecologically distinct populations (ecotypes). Ecotype Simulation predicted a higher number of putative ecotypes in cases where habitat variation was limited, while AdaptML predicted a higher number of ecologically distinct phylogenetic clades in cases where habitat variation was high. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis was used to track the distribution of dominant sequence variants of ecotype populations relative to temperature variation and to O?, pH, and spectral irradiance variation, as measured using microsensors. Different distributions along effluent channel flow and vertical gradients, where temperature, light, and O? concentrations are known to vary, confirmed the ecological distinctness of putative ecotypes.
Project description:Previous research has shown that sequences of 16S rRNA genes and 16S-23S rRNA internal transcribed spacer regions may not have enough genetic resolution to define all ecologically distinct Synechococcus populations (ecotypes) inhabiting alkaline, siliceous hot spring microbial mats. To achieve higher molecular resolution, we studied sequence variation in three protein-encoding loci sampled by PCR from 60°C and 65°C sites in the Mushroom Spring mat (Yellowstone National Park, WY). Sequences were analyzed using the ecotype simulation (ES) and AdaptML algorithms to identify putative ecotypes. Between 4 and 14 times more putative ecotypes were predicted from variation in protein-encoding locus sequences than from variation in 16S rRNA and 16S-23S rRNA internal transcribed spacer sequences. The number of putative ecotypes predicted depended on the number of sequences sampled and the molecular resolution of the locus. Chao estimates of diversity indicated that few rare ecotypes were missed. Many ecotypes hypothesized by sequence analyses were different in their habitat specificities, suggesting different adaptations to temperature or other parameters that vary along the flow channel.
Project description:The objective of this study was to phylogenetically analyze microorganisms from the domains Bacteria and Archaea in hypersaline sediment from Death Valley National Park. Using domain-specific primers, a region of the 16S rRNA gene was amplified using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and the product was subsequently used to create a clone library. A total of 243 bacterial clones, 99 archaeal clones, and 209 bacterial isolates were examined. The 243 clones from Bacteria were affiliated with the following groups: the Bacilli (59 clones) and Clostridia (1) of the Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes (90), Proteobacteria (27), Cyanobacteria (18), Gemmatimonadetes (41), candidate division OP1 (5), Actinobacteria (1), and the Deinococcus-Thermus division (1). Within the class Bacilli, 46 of 59 clones were tentatively identified as 10 unclassified species. The majority of bacterial isolates (130 of 209) were more closely related to the Bacillus subtilis-B. licheniformis clade than to any other recognized taxon, and an Ecotype Simulation analysis of B. subtilis relatives identified four previously unknown ecotypes. Several new genera were discovered within the Bacteroidetes (4) and the Gemmatimonadetes (2). Of the 99 archaeal clones, 94 were tentatively identified as belonging to 3 new genera within the Halobacteriaceae; other clones represented novel species within each of 4 established genera.
Project description:The mosaic distribution of interbreeding taxa with contrasting ecology and morphology offers an opportunity to study microevolutionary dynamics during ecological divergence. We investigate here the evolutionary history of an alpine and a montane ecotype of Heliosperma pusillum (Caryophyllaceae) in the south-eastern Alps. From six pairs of geographically close populations of the two ecotypes (120 individuals) we obtained a high-coverage restriction site associated DNA sequencing (RADseq) dataset that was used for demographic inference to test the hypothesis of parallel evolution of the two ecotypes. The data are consistent with repeated ecological divergence in H. pusillum, uncovering up to five polytopic origins of one ecotype from the other. A complex evolutionary history is evidenced, with local isolation-with-migration in two population pairs and intra-ecotype migration in two others. In all cases, the time of divergence or secondary contact was inferred as postglacial. A metagenomic analysis on exogenous contaminant RAD sequences suggests divergent microbial communities between the ecotypes. The lack of shared genomic regions of high divergence across population pairs illustrates the action of drift and/or local selection in shaping genetic divergence across repeated cases of ecological divergence.
Project description:The central questions of bacterial ecology and evolution require a method to consistently demarcate, from the vast and diverse set of bacterial cells within a natural community, the groups playing ecologically distinct roles (ecotypes). Because of a lack of theory-based guidelines, current methods in bacterial systematics fail to divide the bacterial domain of life into meaningful units of ecology and evolution. We introduce a sequence-based approach ("ecotype simulation") to model the evolutionary dynamics of bacterial populations and to identify ecotypes within a natural community, focusing here on two Bacillus clades surveyed from the "Evolution Canyons" of Israel. This approach has identified multiple ecotypes within traditional species, with each predicted to be an ecologically distinct lineage; many such ecotypes were confirmed to be ecologically distinct, with specialization to different canyon slopes with different solar exposures. Ecotype simulation provides a long-needed natural foundation for microbial ecology and systematics.
Project description:Ecology can play a major role in species diversification. As individuals are adapting to contrasting habitats, reproductive barriers may evolve at multiple levels. While pre-mating barriers have been extensively studied, the evolution of post-mating reproductive isolation during early stages of ecological speciation remains poorly understood. In diverging three-spined stickleback ecotypes from two lakes and two rivers, we observed differences in sperm traits between lake and river males. Interestingly, these differences did not translate into ecotype-specific gamete precedence for sympatric males in competitive in vitro fertilization experiments, potentially owing to antagonistic compensatory effects. However, we observed indirect evidence for impeded development of inter-ecotype zygotes, possibly suggesting an early stage of genetic incompatibility between ecotypes. Our results show that pre-zygotic post-copulatory mechanisms play a minor role during this first stage of ecotype divergence, but suggest that genetic incompatibilities may arise at early stages of ecological speciation.
Project description:Living amphibians exhibit a diversity of ecologies, life histories, and species-rich lineages that offers opportunities for studies of adaptive radiation. We characterize a diverse clade of frogs (Kaloula, Microhylidae) in the Philippine island archipelago as an example of an adaptive radiation into three primary habitat specialists or ecotypes. We use a novel phylogenetic estimate for this clade to evaluate the tempo of lineage accumulation and morphological diversification. Because species-level phylogenetic estimates for Philippine Kaloula are lacking, we employ dense population sampling to determine the appropriate evolutionary lineages for diversification analyses. We explicitly take phylogenetic uncertainty into account when calculating diversification and disparification statistics and fitting models of diversification. Following dispersal to the Philippines from Southeast Asia, Kaloula radiated rapidly into several well-supported clades. Morphological variation within Kaloula is partly explained by ecotype and accumulated at high levels during this radiation, including within ecotypes. We pinpoint an axis of morphospace related directly to climbing and digging behaviors and find patterns of phenotypic evolution suggestive of ecological opportunity with partitioning into distinct habitat specialists. We conclude by discussing the components of phenotypic diversity that are likely important in amphibian adaptive radiations.
Project description:Identifying suitable genetic stock for restoration often employs a 'best guess' approach. Without adaptive variation studies, restoration may be misguided. We test the extent to which climate in central US grasslands exerts selection pressure on a foundation grass big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), widely used in restorations, and resulting in local adaptation. We seeded three regional ecotypes of A. gerardii in reciprocal transplant garden communities across 1150 km precipitation gradient. We measured ecological responses over several timescales (instantaneous gas exchange, medium-term chlorophyll absorbance, and long-term responses of establishment and cover) in response to climate and biotic factors and tested if ecotypes could expand range. The ecotype from the driest region exhibited greatest cover under low rainfall, suggesting local adaptation under abiotic stress. Unexpectedly, no evidence for cover differences between ecotypes exists at mesic sites where establishment and cover of all ecotypes were low, perhaps due to strong biotic pressures. Expression of adaptive differences is strongly environment specific. Given observed adaptive variation, the most conservative restoration strategy would be to plant the local ecotype, especially in drier locations. With superior performance of the most xeric ecotype under dry conditions and predicted drought, this ecotype may migrate eastward, naturally or with assistance in restorations.
Project description:Microbiologists are challenged to explain the origins of enormous numbers of bacterial species worldwide. Contributing to this extreme diversity may be a simpler process of speciation in bacteria than in animals and plants, requiring neither sexual nor geographical isolation between nascent species. Here, we propose and test a novel hypothesis for the extreme diversity of bacterial species-that splitting of one population into multiple ecologically distinct populations (cladogenesis) may be as frequent as adaptive improvements within a single population's lineage (anagenesis). We employed a set of experimental microcosms to address the relative rates of adaptive cladogenesis and anagenesis among the descendants of a Bacillus subtilis clone, in the absence of competing species. Analysis of the evolutionary trajectories of genetic markers indicated that in at least 7 of 10 replicate microcosm communities, the original population founded one or more new, ecologically distinct populations (ecotypes) before a single anagenetic event occurred within the original population. We were able to support this inference by identifying putative ecotypes formed in these communities through differences in genetic marker association, colony morphology and microhabitat association; we then confirmed the ecological distinctness of these putative ecotypes in competition experiments. Adaptive mutations leading to new ecotypes appeared to be about as common as those improving fitness within an existing ecotype. These results suggest near parity of anagenesis and cladogenesis rates in natural populations that are depauperate of bacterial diversity.