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Six out of 12 independent replicate populations of Escherichia coli maintained in long-term glucose-limited continuous culture for up to approximately 1,750 generations evolve polymorphisms maintained by acetate crossfeeding. In all cases, the acetate-crossfeeding phenotype is associated with semiconstitutive overexpression of acetyl CoA synthetase, which allows for the enhanced uptake of low levels of exogenous acetate. Mutations in the 5' regulatory region of the acetyl CoA synthetase locus are responsible for all the acetate crossfeeding phenotypes found. These changes were either transposable-element insertions or a single T-->A nucleotide substitution at position -93 relative to the acs gene translation start site.