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In Situ Evolutionary Rate Measurements Show Ecological Success of Recently Emerged Bacterial Hybrids

Science  27 Apr 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6080, pp. 462-466
DOI: 10.1126/science.1218389

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Abstract

Few data are available on how quickly free-living microorganisms evolve. We analyzed biofilms collected from a well-defined acid mine drainage system over 9 years to investigate the processes and determine rates of bacterial evolution directly in the environment. Population metagenomic analyses of the dominant primary producer yielded the nucleotide substitution rate, which we used to show that proliferation of a series of recombinant bacterial strains occurred over the past few decades. The ecological success of hybrid bacterial types highlights the role of evolutionary processes in rapid adaptation within natural microbial communities.

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