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Negative epistasis between beneficial mutations in an evolving bacterial population

, : Negative epistasis between beneficial mutations in an evolving bacterial population. Science 332(6034): 1193-1196

Epistatic interactions between mutations play a prominent role in evolutionary theories. Many studies have found that epistasis is widespread, but they have rarely considered beneficial mutations. We analyzed the effects of epistasis on fitness for the first five mutations to fix in an experimental population of Escherichia coli. Epistasis depended on the effects of the combined mutations--the larger the expected benefit, the more negative the epistatic effect. Epistasis thus tended to produce diminishing returns with genotype fitness, although interactions involving one particular mutation had the opposite effect. These data support models in which negative epistasis contributes to declining rates of adaptation over time. Sign epistasis was rare in this genome-wide study, in contrast to its prevalence in an earlier study of mutations in a single gene.


PMID: 21636772

DOI: 10.1126/science.1203801

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