Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Many autonomously replicating genetic elements exist as multiple copies within the cell. The copy number of these elements is often assumed to have important fitness consequences for both element and host, yet the forces shaping its evolution are not well understood. The 2 μm is a multicopy plasmid of Saccharomyces yeasts, encoding just four genes that are solely involved in plasmid replication. One simple model for the fitness relationship between yeasts and 2 μm is that plasmid copy number evolves as a trade-off between selection for increased vertical transmission, favouring high copy number, and selection for decreased virulence, favouring low copy number. To test this model, we experimentally manipulated the copy number of the plasmid and directly measured the fitness cost, in terms of growth rate reduction, associated with high plasmid copy number. We find that the fitness burden imposed by the 2 μm increases with plasmid copy number, such that each copy imposes a fitness burden of 0.17% (± 0.008%), greatly exceeding the cost expected for it to be stably maintained in yeast populations. Our results demonstrate the crucial importance of copy number in the evolution of yeast per 2 μm associations and pave the way for future studies examining how selection can shape the cost of multicopy elements.

Original publication




Journal article


J Evol Biol

Publication Date





2348 - 2356


Base Sequence, DNA Copy Number Variations, Evolution, Molecular, Fungal Proteins, Galactose, Genes, Fungal, Plasmids, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Selection, Genetic, Uracil