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Tie fixation of a beneficial mutation represents the first step in adaptation, and the average effect of such mutations is therefore a fundamental property of evolving populations. It is nevertheless poorly characterized because the rarity of beneficial mutations makes it difficult to obtain reliable estimates of fitness. We obtained 68 genotypes each containing a single fixed beneficial mutation from experimental populations of Pseudomonas fluorescens, evolving in medium with serine as the sole carbon source and estimated the selective advantage of each by competition with the ancestor. The distribution of selection coefficients is modal and closely resembles the Weibull distribution. the average selection coefficient (2.1) and beneficial mutation rate (3.8×10-8) are high relative to previous studies, possibly because the ancestral population grows poorly in serine-limited medium. Our experiment suggests that the initial stages of adaptation to stressful environments will involve the substitution of mutations with large effect on fitness. © 2006 The Royal Society.

Original publication




Journal article


Biology Letters

Publication Date





236 - 238