Natural transformation increases the rate of adaptation in the human pathogen Helicobacter pylori

David A. Baltrus, Karen Guillemin, Patrick C. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

68 Scopus citations

Abstract

Gene exchange between individuals can lead to profound evolutionary effects at both the genomic and population levels. These effects have sparked widespread interest in examining the specific adaptive benefits of recombination. Although this work has primarily focused on the benefits of sex in eukaryotes, it is assumed that similar benefits of genetic exchange apply across eukaryotes and prokaryotes. Here we report a direct test of this assumption using the naturally transformable human gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori as a model organism. We show that genetic exchange accelerates adaptation to a novel laboratory environment within bacterial populations and that a general adaptive advantage exists for naturally transformable strains when transfer occurs among conspecific backgrounds. This finding demonstrates that there are generalized benefits to adaptation in both eukaryotes and prokaryotes even though the underlying processes are mechanistically different.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-49
Number of pages11
JournalEvolution
Volume62
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Adaptation
  • Experimental evolution
  • Genetic exchange
  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Natural transformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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