Experimental evolution gone wild

Because of their large population sizes and rapid cell division rates, marine microbes have, or can generate, ample variation to fuel evolution over a few weeks or months, and subsequently have the potential to evolve in response to global change. Here we measure evolution in the marine diatom Skeletonema marinoi evolved in a natural plankton community in CO2-enriched mesocosms deployed in situ. Mesocosm enclosures are typically used to study how the species composition and biogeochemistry of marine communities respond to environmental shifts, but have not been used for experimental evolution to date. Using this approach, we detect a large evolutionary response to CO2 enrichment in a focal marine diatom, where population growth rate increased by 1.3-fold in high CO2-evolved lineages. This study opens an exciting new possibility of carrying out in situ evolution experiments to understand how marine microbial communities evolve in response to environmental change.

Scheinin M., Riebesell U., Rynearson T. A., Lohbeck K. T. & Collins S., in press. Experimental evolution gone wild. Interface. Article.

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