AME - Vol. 53, No. 3 - Feature article

Host to Coast Laboratory Analog illustrated with images of coastline, host, and colonies of evolving Escherichia coli bacterium.
Illustration/Photo: Shane Hunter Hughes

Hughes BS

 

Evolutionary patterns of Escherichia coli growth in seawater determined with a Host to Coast Environmental Laboratory Analog

 

Escherichia coli has historically been assumed to die off rapidly in seawater. However, Hughes designed a laboratory analog to investigate the potential for E. coli to evolve viability in coastal environments. This study found that environmental conditions involving long-term evolutionary exposure to alkalinity dramatically evolved the capacity for survival and growth in seawater, and long-term exposure to cycling fluctuation of pH or 14#176;C temperature raised fitness for colonizing in a human host analog. This new Host To Coast Analog employed standard laboratory microbial experimental evolution methods in simulating bacterial transmission cycling between human host and coast. Results reveal new multi-stress trade-off patterns of evolution, while calling attention to serious ecological health risks of evolving pathogenic aquatic microbes.

 

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