The emergence of adaptive laboratory evolution as an efficient tool for biological discovery and industrial biotechnology

Troy E. Sandberg, Michael J Salazar, Liam L Weng, Bernhard O Palsson, Adam M Feist*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Harnessing the process of natural selection to obtain and understand new microbial phenotypes has become increasingly possible due to advances in culturing techniques, DNA sequencing, bioinformatics, and genetic engineering. Accordingly, Adaptive Laboratory Evolution (ALE) experiments represent a powerful approach to both investigate the evolutionary forces influencing strain phenotypes, performance, and stability, and to acquire production strains that contain beneficial mutations. In this review, we summarize and categorize the applications of ALE to various aspects of microbial physiology pertinent to industrial bioproduction by collecting case studies that highlight the multitude of ways in which evolution can facilitate the strain construction process. Further, we discuss principles that inform experimental design, complementary approaches such as computational modeling that help maximize utility, and the future of ALE as an efficient strain design and build tool driven by growing adoption and improvements in automation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMetabolic Engineering
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Cite this