Specific Eco-evolutionary Contexts in the Mouse Gut Reveal Escherichia coli Metabolic Versatility

João Barroso-Batista, Miguel F. Pedro, Joana Sales-Dias, Catarina J.G. Pinto, Jessica A. Thompson, Helena Pereira, Jocelyne Demengeot, Isabel Gordo, Karina B. Xavier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Members of the gut microbiota are thought to experience strong competition for nutrients. However, how such competition shapes their evolutionary dynamics and depends on intra- and interspecies interactions is poorly understood. Here, we test the hypothesis that Escherichia coli evolution in the mouse gut is more predictable across hosts in the absence of interspecies competition than in the presence of other microbial species. In support, we observed that lrp, a gene encoding a global regulator of amino acid metabolism, was repeatedly selected in germ-free mice 2 weeks after mono-colonization by this bacterium. We established that this specific genetic adaptation increased E. coli's ability to compete for amino acids, and analysis of gut metabolites identified serine and threonine as the metabolites preferentially consumed by E. coli in the mono-colonized mouse gut. Preference for serine consumption was further supported by testing a set of mutants that showed loss of advantage of an lrp mutant impaired in serine metabolism in vitro and in vivo. Remarkably, the presence of a single additional member of the microbiota, Blautia coccoides, was sufficient to alter the gut metabolome and, consequently, the evolutionary path of E. coli. In this environment, the fitness advantage of the lrp mutant bacteria is lost, and mutations in genes involved in anaerobic respiration were selected instead, recapitulating the eco-evolutionary context from mice with a complex microbiota. Together, these results highlight the metabolic plasticity and evolutionary versatility of E. coli, tailored to the specific ecology it experiences in the gut.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1049-1062.e7
JournalCurrent Biology
Volume30
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2020

Keywords

  • amino acid metabolism
  • Blautia coccoides
  • Escherichia coli
  • evolution
  • germ-free
  • gnotobiology
  • gut, metabolomics
  • lrp
  • serine metabolism

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