Coevolution Trumps Pleiotropy: Carbon Assimilation Traits Are Independent of Metabolic Network Structure in Budding Yeast

Department of Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, United States of America.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 01/2013; 8(1):e54403. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054403
Source: PubMed


Phenotypic traits may be gained and lost together because of pleiotropy, the involvement of common genes and networks, or because of simultaneous selection for multiple traits across environments (multiple-trait coevolution). However, the extent to which network pleiotropy versus environmental coevolution shapes shared responses has not been addressed. To test these alternatives, we took advantage of the fact that the genus Saccharomyces has variation in habitat usage and diversity in the carbon sources that a given strain can metabolize. We examined patterns of gain and loss in carbon utilization traits across 488 strains of Saccharomyces to investigate whether the structure of metabolic pathways or selection pressure from common environments may have caused carbon utilization traits to be gained and lost together. While most carbon sources were gained and lost independently of each other, we found four clusters that exhibit non-random patterns of gain and loss across strains. Contrary to the network pleiotropy hypothesis, we did not find that these patterns are explained by the structure of metabolic pathways or shared enzymes. Consistent with the hypothesis that common environments shape suites of phenotypes, we found that the environment a strain was isolated from partially predicts the carbon sources it can assimilate.

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