Diminishing Returns from Mutation Supply Rate in Asexual Populations

Science  15 Jan 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5400, pp. 404-406
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5400.404

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Mutator genotypes with increased mutation rates may be especially important in microbial evolution if genetic adaptation is generally limited by the supply of mutations. In experimental populations of the bacterium Escherichia coli, the rate of evolutionary adaptation was proportional to the mutation supply rate only in particular circumstances of small or initially well-adapted populations. These experiments also demonstrate a “speed limit” on adaptive evolution in asexual populations, one that is independent of the mutation supply rate.

  • * Present address: Laboratory of Microbiology, Wageningen Agricultural University, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: arjan.devisser{at}

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