Ecology and Evolution

Adaptive Prediction

Diverse organisms including microbes have evolved mechanisms to gain fitness advantage by sensing an environmental cue to anticipate and prepare in advance for a future selective pressure, a strategy known as adaptive prediction (AP). AP is generally beneficial to microbes as it can confer fitness advantage over competitors, facilitate competition for resources, and help with evasion of predators or host-defense systems. However, AP can become disadvantageous in poorly structured environments or those with unpredictable patterns of change, especially when the advanced preparedness is maladaptive. In fact, it takes just a few hundred generations in a novel environment for E. coli to lose its capability to predict a downshift in oxygen upon sensing an upshift in temperature.

While prior studies have demonstrated the existence of AP and the rapidity with which it is lost, emergence of this behavior has not previously been reported under laboratory controlled conditions, making it challenging to elucidate its evolutionary and mechanistic underpinnings. In this project, we are investigating the timeframe over which AP emerges when an organism encounters an environment with novel structure.



Brooks, Aaron N., Serdar Turkarslan, Karlyn D. Beer, Fang Yin Lo, and Nitin S. Baliga. “Adaptation of Cells to New Environments.” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews. Systems Biology and Medicine 3, no. 5 (October 2011): 544–61.
Turkarslan, Serdar, David J. Reiss, Goodwin Gibbins, Wan Lin Su, Min Pan, J. Christopher Bare, Christopher L. Plaisier, and Nitin S. Baliga. “Niche Adaptation by Expansion and Reprogramming of General Transcription Factors.” Molecular Systems Biology 7 (2011): 554.
Ashworth, Justin, Elisabeth J. Wurtmann, and Nitin S. Baliga. “Reverse Engineering Systems Models of Regulation: Discovery, Prediction and Mechanisms.” Current Opinion in Biotechnology 23, no. 4 (August 2012): 598–603.