Abstracts (first author)
Genomics of adaptation in evolving microbial populations
The search for the genetic changes responsible for adaptive evolution has been, at least since Mendel, the ‘holy grail’ of adaptation research. With the introduction of cost-effective next generation sequencing (NGS) technology over the past few years the grail is finally within reach. Combining NGS with experimental evolution of microbial populations is particularly promising in this regard as it provides a glimpse into the natural history of evolving genomes under at least one fairly well defined set of parameters: large population sizes, asexual reproduction, and (usually) haploid genomes. I will review the results of studies that have come from combining NGS with experimental evolution for what they tell us about the genomics of adaptation at the genomic level. In many respects the results are reassuring: the bulk of adaptive changes occur in open reading frames and are non-synonymous, for example. But NGS has also provided some surprises: synonymous mutations that are clearly adaptive, for example, and mutations in genes that, at first glance at least, are hard to interpret in an adaptive light. Making sense of the full spectrum of results will require some careful rethinking in terms of experimental design and genomic sampling.