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The Phenotypic and Fitness Effects of Colicin Resistance in Escherichia coli K-12

Michael Feldgarden and Margaret A. Riley
Evolution
Vol. 53, No. 4 (Aug., 1999), pp. 1019-1027
DOI: 10.2307/2640807
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2640807
Page Count: 9
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The Phenotypic and Fitness Effects of Colicin Resistance in Escherichia coli K-12
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Abstract

Previous studies indicate that most natural isolates of Escherichia coli are resistant to most or all colicins (antibiotics produced by E. coli) when assessed in the laboratory. Additionally, resistance to different colicin types appears to arise in a nonindependent manner. One possible mechanism to explain this nonindependence is pleiotropy: Multiple resistances are selected after exposure to a single colicin. This study, which was designed to address the role of pleiotropy in the generation of colicin resistance, revealed that 96% of colicin resistant mutants were resistant to two or more colicins. Mutational class was important because putative translocation mutants (Tol pathway mutants) resisted fewer colicins than putative receptor mutants. To determine whether colicin resistance is costly, the effects of colicin resistance mutations on maximal growth rate in a rich medium were also examined. Relative to the sensitive ancestor, translocation mutations lowered maximal growth rates by 17%, whereas putative receptor mutations did not significantly lower growth rates. Thus, when nutrients are abundant, the most advantageous forms of colicin resistance may not impose a cost. The ecological consequences of pleiotropic colicin resistance could involve population cycling between colicin sensitivity and resistance. Additionally, if the cost of resistance depends on the environment, ecological diversification could result.

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