Dynamics of local adaptation in a stable environmental gradient

Edvin Memet, Ned S. Wingreen, Yigal Meir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microbial populations in nature generally inhabit extended environments with substantial spatial variation in ecological factors: light intensity in the ocean, temperature in geothermal hot springs, or a variety of chemical concentrations including salt and pH. In such continuously varying environments, it remains unclear why a finite number of subpopulations form and how this number is set. Here we show that a model of asexual evolution in a gradient maps onto a no-gradient neutral model, and by mapping this model to a gas of kinks and antikinks, we derive the full distribution of the number of coexisting lineages, and their correlation functions. Testing these predictions in controlled laboratory experiments would provide valuable insights into many real-world microbial communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL042026
JournalPhysical Review Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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