Research Article

Stress-Induced Mutagenesis in Bacteria

Science  30 May 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5624, pp. 1404-1409
DOI: 10.1126/science.1082240

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Abstract

The evolutionary significance of stress-induced mutagenesis was evaluated by studying mutagenesis in aging colonies (MAC) of Escherichia coli natural isolates. A large fraction of isolates exhibited a strong MAC, and the high MAC variability reflected the diversity of selective pressures in ecological niches. MAC depends on starvation, oxygen, and RpoS and adenosine 3′,5′-monophosphate regulons; thus it may be a by-product of genetic strategies for improving survival under stress. MAC could also be selected through beneficial mutations that it generates, as shown by computer modeling and the patterns of stress-inducible and constitutive mutagenesis. We suggest that irrespective of the causes of their emergence, stress-induced mutations participate in adaptive evolution.

  • * These authors contributed equally to this work.

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