Evolution

Location, Location, Location

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Science  15 Apr 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6027, pp. 284-285
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6027.284-d
CREDIT: BRITT KOSKELLA AND ZACHARY BURTIS

Experimental studies of bacteria-phage interactions can model both disease evolution and coevolutionary theory. Koskella et al. used DNA sequencing to compare the bacterial assemblages on the surface and in the interior of horse chestnut tree leaves, and then used a series of cross-inoculation experiments to assess both the strength and spatial scale of phage adaptation to local bacterial populations. From this, they found that the spatial scale at which phages adapt to parasitic bacteria in natural communities depends on the host environment in which the phage-bacterial interaction occurs. The tree, rather than the individual leaves on a tree, best explained phage local adaptation for both the exterior and interior leaf surface. The degree of adaptation varied by location, however, with phage from the leaf interior showing higher adaptation as compared to those from the leaf exterior. These differences could not be explained by the differences in host bacterial compositions between the two sites. Thus, even across micrometers, the local environment affects the degree and spatial structure of adaptation and probably plays a role in coevolution.

Am. Nat. 177, 440 (2011).

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