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Abstract

Bacteria often evolve resistance to phage through the loss or modification of cell surface receptors. In and phage λ, such resistance can catalyze a coevolutionary arms race focused on host and phage structures that interact at the outer membrane. Here, we analyse another facet of this arms race involving interactions at the inner membrane, whereby evolves mutations in mannose permease-encoding genes and that impair λ’s ability to eject its DNA into the cytoplasm. We show that these mutants arose concurrently with the arms race at the outer membrane. We tested the hypothesis that λ evolved an additional counter-defence that allowed them to infect bacteria with deleted genes. The deletions severely impaired the ancestral λ, but some evolved phage grew well on the deletion mutants, indicating that they regained infectivity by evolving the ability to infect hosts independently of the mannose permease. This coevolutionary arms race fulfils the model of an inverse gene-for-gene infection network. Taken together, the interactions at both the outer and inner membranes reveal that coevolutionary arms races can be richer and more complex than is often appreciated.

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2021-05-25
2022-01-24
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