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Predictable Properties of Fitness Landscapes Induced by Adaptational Tradeoffs

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Original languageEnglish
Article numbere55155
Early online date19 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2020


Fitness effects of mutations depend on environmental parameters. For example, mutations that increase fitness of bacteria at high antibiotic concentration often decrease fitness in the absence of antibiotic, exemplifying a tradeoff between adaptation to environmental extremes. We develop a mathematical model for 1tness landscapes generated by such tradeoffs, based on experiments that determine the antibiotic dose-response curves of Escherichia coli strains, and previous observations on antibiotic resistance mutations. Our model generates a succession of landscapes with predictable properties as antibiotic concentration is varied. The landscape is nearly smooth at low and high concentrations, but the tradeoff induces a high ruggedness at intermediate antibiotic concentrations. Despite this high ruggedness, however, all the fitness maxima in the landscapes are evolutionarily accessible from the wild type. This implies that selection for antibiotic resistance in multiple mutational steps is relatively facile despite the complexity of the underlying landscape.

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