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Spontaneous mutations in bacteria: chance or necessity?


MacPhee, DG and Ambrose, M, Spontaneous mutations in bacteria: chance or necessity?, Genetica, 97, (1) pp. 87-101. ISSN 0016-6707 (1996) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 1996 Kluwer Academic Publishers

DOI: doi:10.1007/BF00132585


Several investigators have recently reported that significant numbers of appropriately adapted mutants can be induced in bacterial and yeast strains by exposing stationary phase cells to specific environmental challenges. The resulting mutants are said to be both selection-induced and demonstrably non-random in origin; if this interpretation is correct, it is in direct conflict with the conventional neo-Darwinian view, which is that spontaneous mutants are truly random in origin and arise without the intervention of any overtly adaptive forces. We believe that there are alternative ways of accounting for the appearance of many (and probably all) of the additional mutants which proponents of the adaptive mutation theory claim are observed only after they applied the appropriate selective pressure. Having reviewed the available evidence, we consider that most (if not all) of the sorts of mutants which are said to have been induced following exposure of stationary-phase cells to intense selective pressure are equally likely to have been generated during the operation of certain well-known, conventional (and essentially random) cellular DNA repair processes. Evidence in support of our view can be found in the mainstream literature on the origins of spontaneous mutations. We also note that some of the molecular models which have recently been proposed to explain the production of selection-induced mutations preferentially (or even only) in genes of adaptive significance may turn out to be of considerable interest in their own right, even although the mutants whose origins they were intended to explain may turn out to have arisen in a manner which is totally independent of the conditions used for their selection.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:spontaneous mutations, stationary-phase, bacteria
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Genetics
Research Field:Anthropological genetics
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical health
Objective Field:Clinical health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Ambrose, M (Dr Mark Ambrose)
ID Code:87165
Year Published:1996
Web of Science® Times Cited:8
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2013-11-08
Last Modified:2017-01-17

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