The effect of a competitor on a model adaptive radiation.
Zhang QG., Ellis RJ., Godfray HC.
The ecological forces shaping adaptive radiations are of great interest to evolutionary ecologists. Here, we experimentally test the hypothesis that the diversification of a lineage should be limited in the presence of competition from another taxon. We do this by studying a model microbial adaptive radiation (the generation of phenotypic diversity in asexual lineages of the bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens) in the presence or absence of a competitor (Pseudomonas putida). In a spatially heterogeneous environment, the competitor P. putida reduced P. fluorescens population size only slightly and had no effect on diversification. In a spatially homogeneous environment, the competitor reduced P. fuoresecens population size to a much greater extent. Again the final extent of diversification in P. fluorescens was not affected by the competitor, but early diversification was accelerated. In this environment, P. putida suppressed the growth of a common variant of P. fluorescens and directly or indirectly facilitated the growth of a rare morph. Our results suggest that competition experienced by diversifying lineages may have complex effects on adaptive radiations not fully captured by current theory.