Virus strains with a history of repeated genetic bottlenecks frequently show a diminished ability to adapt compared to strains that do not have such a history. These differences in adaptability suggest differences in either the rate at which beneficial mutations are produced, the effects of beneficial mutations, or both. We tested these possibilities by subjecting four populations (two controls and two mutants with lower adaptabilities) to multiple replicas of a regimen of positive selection and then determining the fitnesses of the progeny through time and the changes in the consensus, full-length sequences of 56 genomes. We observed that at a given number of passages, the overall fitness gains observed for control populations were larger than fitness gains in mutant populations. However, these changes did not correlate with differences in the numbers of mutations accumulated in the two types of genomes. This result is consistent with beneficial mutations having a lower beneficial effect on mutant strains. Despite the overall fitness differences, some replicas of one mutant strain at passage 50 showed fitness increases similar to those observed for the wild type. We hypothesized that these evolved, high-fitness mutants may have a lower robustness than evolved, high-fitness controls. Robustness is the ability of a virus to avoid phenotypic changes in the face of mutation. We confirmed our hypothesis in mutation-accumulation experiments that showed a normalized fitness loss that was significantly larger in mutant bottlenecked populations than in control populations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science