Using a neat experimental system developed by @RachaelEvans2 from scratch during her PhD we experimentally evolved bacterial communities containing 6 species on wheat straw as sole C source either allowing or preventing eco-evolutionary community dynamics
By tracking metabolic evolution (as a multivariate phenotype) in a focal species we discovered that living in a community accelerated metabolic evolution compared to living in monoculture
In communities without eco-evo dynamics the focal species evolved to exploit the metabolic activity of neighbouring species, but in communities with eco-evo dynamics the focal species adapted to use hard-to-digest components of lignocellulose (like cellulose)
Increased use of hard-to-digest substrates was driven by reinvasion of communities by a species specialised on easy-to-digest components of lignocellulose, suggesting species sorting sets the trajectory of evolution in dynamic communities
Evolving to use hard-to-digest substrates was associated with loss of function mutations in tctE a regulator of carbon metabolism
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