Somovilla P, Rodríguez-Moreno A, Arribas M, Manrubia S, Lázaro E. Standing Genetic Diversity and Transmission Bottleneck Size Drive Adaptation in Bacteriophage Qβ. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2022; 23(16):8876. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23168876
A critical issue to understanding how populations adapt to new selective pressures is the relative contribution of the initial standing genetic diversity versus that generated de novo. RNA viruses are an excellent model to study this question, as they form highly heterogeneous populations whose genetic diversity can be modulated by factors such as the number of generations, the size of population bottlenecks, or exposure to new environment conditions. In this work, we propagated at nonoptimal temperature (43 °C) two bacteriophage Qβ populations differing in their degree of heterogeneity. Deep sequencing analysis showed that, prior to the temperature change, the most heterogeneous population contained some low-frequency mutations that had previously been detected in the consensus sequences of other Qβ populations adapted to 43 °C. Evolved populations with origin in this ancestor reached similar growth rates, but the adaptive pathways depended on the frequency of these standing mutations and the transmission bottleneck size. In contrast, the growth rate achieved by populations with origin in the less heterogeneous ancestor did depend on the transmission bottleneck size. The conclusion is that viral diversification in a particular environment may lead to the emergence of mutants capable of accelerating adaptation when the environment changes.
Keywords: standing genetic diversity; de novo mutations; adaptation; transmission bottleneck size; RNA viruses; bacteriophage Qβ; molecular evolution