Nonselective bottlenecks control the divergence and diversification of phase-variable bacterial populations

Aidley, Jack B., Rajopadhye, Shweta, Akinyemi, Nwanekka, Lango-Scholey, Lea, Jones, Michael A. and Bayliss, Christopher D. (2017) Nonselective bottlenecks control the divergence and diversification of phase-variable bacterial populations. mBio, 8 (2). pp. 1-14. ISSN 2150-7511

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Phase variation occurs in many pathogenic and commensal bacteria and is a major generator of genetic variability. A putative advantage of phase variation is to counter reductions in variability imposed by nonselective bottlenecks during transmission. Genomes of Campylobacter jejuni, a widespread food-borne pathogen, contain multiple phase-variable loci whose rapid, stochastic variation is generated by hypermutable simple sequence repeat tracts. These loci can occupy a vast number of combinatorial expression states (phasotypes) enabling populations to rapidly access phenotypic diversity. The imposition of nonselective bottlenecks can perturb the relative frequencies of phasotypes, changing both within-population diversity and divergence from the initial population. Using both in vitro testing of C. jejuni populations and a simple stochastic simulation of phasotype change, we observed that single-cell bottlenecks produce output populations of low diversity but with bimodal patterns of either high or low divergence. Conversely, large bottlenecks allow divergence only by accumulation of diversity, while interpolation between these extremes is observed in intermediary bottlenecks. These patterns are sensitive to the genetic diversity of initial populations but stable over a range of mutation rates and number of loci. The qualitative similarities of experimental and in silico modeling indicate that the observed patterns are robust and applicable to other systems where localized hypermutation is a defining feature. We conclude that while phase variation will maintain bacterial population diversity in the face of intermediate bottlenecks, narrow transmission-associated bottlenecks could produce host-to-host variation in bacterial phenotypes and hence stochastic variation in colonization and disease outcomes.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Authorship error lead to omission this is corrected in amendment attached as separate pdf.
Keywords: Campylobacter Phase-variation
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Veterinary Medicine and Science
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Depositing User: Jones, Michael
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2017 14:52
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 18:40

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