Adaptive mutation in Escherichia coli: a role for conjugation

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  21 Apr 1995:
Vol. 268, Issue 5209, pp. 418-420
DOI: 10.1126/science.7716545


When subjected to selective conditions that impose starvation, a bacterial population can accumulate mutations, called adaptive, that allow colony formation. Here, the reversion of a lac allele under selective conditions, in a model system using Escherichia coli with the lac mutation on an F' plasmid, was shown to require the conjugational capacity of the plasmid. Reversion associated with transfer was shown, and when the same lac allele was chromosomal, reversion to Lac+ was 25 to 50 times less frequent. Postplating reversion was 25 times less when mating was inhibited by the presence of detergent. Mutability associated with conjugation provides new ways of thinking about the origin of adaptive mutations.