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PLOS Genetics Research Prize 2015: Winner Announced

The PLOS Genetics Editors-in-Chief and Senior Editors would like to congratulate: João Barroso-Batista, Ana Sousa, Marta Lourenço, Marie-Louise Bergman, Daniel Sobral, Jocelyne Demengeot, Karina B. Xavier and Isabel Gordo, authors of the article chosen as the recipient of the PLOS Genetics Research Prize 2015:

The First Steps of Adaptation of Escherichia coli to the Gut Are Dominated by Soft Sweeps’.

In this study, João Barroso-Batista, Ana Sousa and colleagues, from the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Portugal, investigated the dynamics of adaptation of Escherichia coli populations evolving in the complex environment of the mammalian intestine. Using mice as a host, the researchers found that in only one week of colonization, many bacterial clones carrying different advantageous mutations emerge and compete for fixation in the mouse gut, a process known as clonal interference. Despite the high complexity of the natural environment studied, the evolutionary process was highly reproducible as the same mutations occurred in populations of E. coli evolving in different mice. The results reveal a layer of complexity of the gut microbiota that has been unknown so far, and demonstrate how rich and rapid the evolutionary dynamics of each bacterial species inhabiting a healthy animal can be.

Corresponding author, Isabel Gordo says: “We are very happy that our research paper received this prize. The paper shows that one can study evolution with a remarkable level of quantitative precision in one of the most complex environments ever tackled. From now on we should consider the competitive war that appears to take place between emerging new strains of a given species when thinking about the composition of the gut microbiota in the context of health or disease.”


Evolution of Newly Generated Haplotypes inside the Mouse Gut
This image represents an example of evolution of newly generated haplotypes, showing sub-populations of bacteria in the mouse gut. Image credit: João Barroso-Batista and colleagues

The PLOS Genetics Research Prize was born from the editors’ desire to recognize the outstanding work published in PLOS Genetics and was launched as part of PLOS Genetics’ 10 year anniversary celebrations. Members of the genetics community nominated their favorite Research Article published in PLOS Genetics in 2014, and the Senior Editors selected the winning article from these nominations, based on scientific excellence and the community impact of the work.

Further details about the prize can be found here:


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