Immigration history controls diversification in experimental adaptive radiation


Diversity in biological communities is a historical product of immigration, diversification and extinction1,2,3,4, but the combined effect of these processes is poorly understood. Here we show that the order and timing of immigration controls the extent of diversification. When an ancestral bacterial genotype was introduced into a spatially structured habitat, it rapidly diversified into multiple niche-specialist types5. However, diversification was suppressed when a niche-specialist type was introduced before, or shortly after, introduction of the ancestral genotype. In contrast, little suppression occurred when the same niche specialist was introduced relatively late. The negative impact of early arriving immigrants was attributable to the historically sensitive outcome of interactions involving neutral competition3 and indirect facilitation. Ultimately, the entire boom-and-bust dynamics of adaptive radiation were altered. These results demonstrate that immigration and diversification are tightly linked processes, with small differences in immigration history greatly affecting the evolutionary emergence of diversity.

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Figure 1: Diversification of the ancestral SM genotype in spatially structured microcosms.
Figure 2: Effects of immigration history.
Figure 3: Long-term changes in diversity.
Figure 4: Effect of the founding density of WS genotypes on the outcome of competition.


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We thank P. Meintjes for assistance, and B. Emerson, R. Kassen and the members of the Rainey laboratory for comments. This work was supported by the Marsden Fund Council from government funding administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand, and by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

Author Contributions T.F. developed the concepts, designed the main experiment with P.B.R., collected and analysed the primary data, and wrote the manuscript in conjunction with P.B.R. and H.J.E.B. H.J.E.B. and P.B.R. conceptualized the SMmsc genotype, which was constructed and validated by H.J.E.B. X.-X.Z. designed, constructed and validated lacZ-marked SBW25. H.J.E.B. and T.F. performed selection experiments.

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Correspondence to Tadashi Fukami.

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Supplementary Information

This file contains Supplementary Discussion 1 and 2 and Supplementary Figures 1-2. Supplementary Discussion 1 explains why the boom-and-bust dynamics have parallels with similar dynamics observed in macro-organisms. Supplementary Discussion 2 provides further detail on the results of the experiments that used SMmsc. Supplementary Figure 1 shows the relationship between relative immigration timing and population size and initial population growth rate. Supplementary Figure 2 shows detection of SMmsc-derived WS genotypes in microcosms in which diversification was suppressed by early introduction of small-WS. (PDF 315 kb)

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Fukami, T., Beaumont, H., Zhang, X. et al. Immigration history controls diversification in experimental adaptive radiation. Nature 446, 436–439 (2007).

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