Transient and heritable mutators in adaptive evolution in the lab and in nature

Susan M. Rosenberg, Carl Thulin, Reuben S. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Major advances in understanding the molecular mechanism of recombination-dependent stationary-phase mutation in Escherichia coli occurred this past year. These advances are reviewed here, and we also present new evidence that the mutagenic state responsible is transient. We find that most stationary-phase mutants do not possess a heritable stationary-phase mutator phenotype, although a small proportion of heritable mutators was found previously. We outline similarities between this well- studied system and several recent examples of adaptive evolution associated with heritable mutator phenotype in a similarly small proportion of survivors of selection in nature and in the lab. We suggest the following: (1) Transient mutator states may also be a predominant source of adaptive mutations in these latter systems, the heritable mutators being a minority (ROSENBERG 1997); (2) heritable mutators may sometimes be a product of, rather than the cause of, hypermutation that gives rise to adaptive mutations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1559-1566
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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