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BMC Evolutionary Biology

, 8:34

First Online: 30 January 2008Received: 25 September 2007Accepted: 30 January 2008

Abstract

BackgroundThe evolutionary consequences of competition are of great interest to researchers studying sympatric speciation, adaptive radiation, species coexistence and ecological assembly. Competition-s role in driving evolutionary change in phenotypic distributions, and thus causing ecological character displacement, has been inferred from biogeographical data and measurements of divergent selection on a focal species in the presence of competitors. However, direct experimental demonstrations of character displacement due to competition are rare.

ResultsWe demonstrate a causal role for competition in ecological character displacement. Using populations of the bacterium Escherichia coli that have adaptively diversified into ecotypes exploiting different carbon resources, we show that when interspecific competition is relaxed, phenotypic distributions converge. When we reinstate competition, phenotypic distributions diverge.

ConclusionThis accordion-like dynamic provides direct experimental evidence that competition for resources can cause evolutionary shifts in resource-related characters.

AbbreviationsSSslow-switching ecotype

FSfast-switching ecotype

lagaceacetate lag

Δzdistance in phenotypic trait space.

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1471-2148-8-34 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Author: Jabus G Tyerman - Melanie Bertrand - Christine C Spencer - Michael Doebeli

Source: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/1471-2148-8-34



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