A population’s growth rate is determined by multiple ‘life history traits’. To quantitatively determine which life history traits should be improved to allow a living organism to adapt to an inhibitory environment is an important issue. Previously, we conducted thermal adaptation experiments on the RNA bacteriophage Qβ using three independent replicates and reported that all three end-point populations could grow at a temperature (43.6°C) that inhibited the growth of the ancestral strain. Even though the fitness values of the endpoint populations were almost the same, their genome sequence was not, indicating that the three thermally adapted populations may have different life history traits. In this study, we introduced each mutation observed in these three end-point populations into the cDNA of the Qβ genome and prepared three different mutants. Quantitative analysis showed that they tended to increase their fitness by increasing the adsorption rate to their host, shortening their latent period (i.e., the duration between phage infection and progeny release), and increasing the burst size (i.e., the number of progeny phages per infected cell), but all three mutants decreased their thermal stability. However, the degree to which these traits changed differed. The mutant with the least mutations showed a smaller decrease in thermal stability, the largest adsorption rate to the host, and the shortest latent period. These results indicated that several different adaptive routes exist by which Qβ can adapt to higher temperatures, even though Qβ is a simple RNA bacteriophage with a small genome size, encoding only four genes.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 4, 2018
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