BackgroundEvolutionary dynamics of microbial organisms can now be visualized using the Visualizing Evolution in Real Time (VERT) system, in which several isogenic strains expressing different fluorescent proteins compete during adaptive evolution and are tracked using fluorescent cell sorting to construct a population history over time. Mutations conferring enhanced growth rates can be detected by observing changes in the fluorescent population proportions.ResultsUsing data obtained from several VERT experiments, we construct a hidden Markov-derived model to detect these adaptive events in VERT experiments without external intervention beyond initial training. Analysis of annotated data revealed that the model achieves consensus with human annotation for 85-93% of the data points when detecting adaptive events. A method to determine the optimal time point to isolate adaptive mutants is also introduced.ConclusionsThe developed model offers a new way to monitor adaptive evolution experiments without the need for external intervention, thereby simplifying adaptive evolution efforts relying on population tracking. Future efforts to construct a fully automated system to isolate adaptive mutants may find the algorithm a useful tool.
James Winkler and Katy Kao. "Computational identification of adaptive mutants using the VERT system" Journal of Biological Engineering (2012). doi:10.1186/1754-1611-6-3