Microbial genomic trait evolution is dominated by frequent and rare pulsed evolution
by Martin Wu | University of Virginia
Abstract ID: 101
Event: The 3rd AsiaEvo Conference
Topic: Open category
Presenter Name: Martin Wu

On the macroevolutionary time scale, does trait evolution proceed gradually or by rapid bursts (pulses) separated by prolonged periods of stasis or slow evolution? Although studies have shown that pulsed evolution is prevalent in animals, our knowledge about the tempo and mode of evolution across the tree of life is very limited. This long-standing debate calls for a test in bacteria and archaea, the most ancient and diverse forms of life with unique population genetic properties. Using a likelihood-based framework, we show that pulsed evolution is not only present but also prevalent and predominant in microbial genomic trait evolution. We detected two distinct types of pulsed evolution (small frequent and large rare jumps) that are predicted by the punctuated equilibrium and quantum evolution theories. Our findings suggest that major bacterial lineages could have originated in quick bursts and that pulsed evolution is a common theme across the tree of life.