• Adaptation;
  • effective population size;
  • experimental evolution;
  • population genetics

Clonal interference refers to the competition that arises in asexual populations when multiple beneficial mutations segregate simultaneously. A large body of theoretical and experimental work now addresses this issue. Although much of the experimental work is performed in populations that grow exponentially between periodic population bottlenecks, the theoretical work to date has addressed only populations of a constant size. We derive an analytical approximation for the rate of adaptation in the presence of both clonal interference and bottlenecks, and compare this prediction to the results of an individual-based simulation, showing excellent agreement in the parameter regime in which clonal interference prevails. We also derive an appropriate definition for the effective population size for adaptive evolution experiments in the presence of population bottlenecks. This “adaptation effective population size” allows for a good approximation of the expected rate of adaptation, either in the strong-selection weak-mutation regime, or when clonal interference comes into play. In the multiple mutation regime, when the product of the population size and mutation rate is extremely large, these results no longer hold.