I am a senior majoring in CMD Biology and minoring in Microbiology. I am studying fitness landscapes in structured and unstructured populations. We have found that structured populations reach a higher fitness than unstructured ones using E. coli as a model. My project is investigating the genetic mechanisms behind these results.We have two hypotheses explaining structure’s effect on adaptation: the Mutational Distance Hypothesis and the Diversity Hypothesis. The Mutational Distance Hypothesis predicts that there will be more mutations accumulated in the structured populations than the unstructured, whereas the Diversity Hypothesis predicts that structured populations will have greater genetic diversity than unstructured populations. This work will lead to a greater understanding of adaptation and may have medical implications concerning bacterial evolution.
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