A search for a general phenomenon of adaptive mutability

Timothy Galitski, John R. Roth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The most prominent systems for the study of adaptive mutability depend on the specialized activities of genetic elements like bacteriophage Mu and the F plasmid. Searching for general adaptive mutability, we have investigated the behavior of Salmonella typhimurium strains with chromosomal lacZ mutations. We have studied 30 revertible nonsense, missense, frameshift, and insertion alleles. One-third of the mutants produced ≥ 10 late revertant colonies (appearing three to seven days after plating on selective medium). For the prolific mutants, the number of late revertants showed rank correlation with the residual β-galactosidase activity; for the same mutants, revertant number showed no correlation with the nonselective reversion rate (from fluctuation tests). Leaky mutants, which grew slowly on selective medium, produced late revertants whereas tight nongrowing mutants generally did not produce late revertants. However, the number of late revertants was not proportional to residual growth. Using total residual growth and the nonselective reversion rate, the expected number of late revertants was calculated. For several leaky mutants, the observed revertant number exceeded the expected number. We suggest that excess late revertants from these mutants arise from general adaptive mutability available to any chromosomal gene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)645-659
Number of pages15
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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