Travisano, M., F. Vasi, and R. E. Lenski. 1995. Long-term experimental
evolution in Escherichia coli. III. Variation among replicate
populations in correlated responses to novel environments. Evolution
Twelve populations of Escherichia coli were founded from a single clone and propagated for 2000 generations in identical glucose-limited environments. During this time, the mean fitnesses of the evolving populations relative to their common ancestor improved greatly, but their fitnesses relative to one another diverged only slightly. Although the populations showed similar fitness increases, they may have done so by different underlying adaptations, or they may have diverged in other respects by random genetic drift. Therefore, we examined the relative fitnesses of independently derived genotypes in two other sugars, maltose and lactose, to determine whether they were homogeneous or heterogeneous in these environments. The genetic variation among the derived lines in fitness on maltose and lactose was more than 100-times greater than their variation in fitness on glucose. Moreover, the glucose-adapted genotypes, on average, showed significant adaptation to lactose, but not to maltose. That pathways for use of maltose and glucose are virtually identical in E. coli, except for their distinct mechanisms of uptake, suggests that the derived genotypes have adapted primarily by improved glucose transport. From consideration of the number of generations of divergence, the mutation rate in E. coli, and the proportion of its genome required for growth on maltose (but not glucose), we hypothesize that pleiotropy involving the selected alleles, rather than random genetic drift of alleles at other loci, was the major cause of the variation among the derived genotypes in fitness on these other sugars.