ObjectiveAdaptive laboratory evolution (ALE) is an effective approach to study the evolution behavior of bacterial cultures and to select for strains with desired metabolic features. In this study, we explored the possibility of evolving Thermotoga sp. strain RQ7 for cellulose-degrading abilities.ResultsWild type RQ7 strain was subject to a series of transfers over six and half years with cellulose filter paper as the main and eventually the sole carbon source. Each transfer was accompanied with the addition of 50 μg of Caldicellulosiruptor saccharolyticus DSM 8903 genomic DNA. A total of 331 transfers were completed. No cellulose degradation was observed with the RQ7 cultures. Thirty three (33) isolates from six time points were sampled and sequenced. Nineteen (19) of the 33 isolates were unique, and the rest were duplicated clones. None of the isolates acquired C. saccharolyticus DNA, but all accumulated small-scale mutations throughout their genomes. Sequence analyses revealed 35 mutations that were preserved throughout the generations and another 15 mutations emerged near the end of the study. Many of the affected genes participate in phosphate metabolism, substrate transport, stress response, sensory transduction, and gene regulation.