University of New Hampshire
Mentor: Dr. Vaughn Cooper, UNH Department of Microbiology
The Availability of Beneficial Mutations to an Organism Evolving in an Environment to Which It Has Previously Adapted
Beneficial mutations are mutations that increase an organism’s fitness. These mutations are rare, because most mutations are neutral or detrimental to the organism. When an organism is new to an environment there are a wide variety of beneficial mutations available to help it adapt to its environment. This study is concerned with identifying what beneficial mutations are available to an organism evolving in an environment to which it has already adapted. A mutant of a bacterial species known as Burkholderia cenocepacia will be evolved in an environment in which it has previously adapted. New mutants will be gathered from this process, and will be used to compete against ancestor bacteria to test fitness. This research will address many questions in the field of evolutionary biology, and will lead to a better understanding of how organisms adapt to their environments.