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Chapter 28 : Measuring Spontaneous Mutation Rates

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Measuring Spontaneous Mutation Rates, Page 1 of 2

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Abstract:

Spontaneous mutations are mutations that occur in the absence of exogenous causes. Of particular interest are the spontaneous mutation rates of organisms that live in environments so extreme that the coding properties of their DNA should be destroyed. This chapter provides a guide to methods used for calculating mutation rates in the hope that it will be useful to scientists and students who wish to use mutation rates in their research. In addition, the Luria-Delbrück distribution applies to other cases in which a rare initiating event is amplified in a population. There are two basic methods to determine mutation rates: mutant accumulation and fluctuation analysis. All methods to estimate spontaneous mutation rates are based on theoretical models of mutational processes and cell growth. Of the less complicated methods, the Lea-Coulson method of the median and the Jones median estimator are reliable if mutation rates are low to moderate; if mutation rates are very low (m = 1), only the p method is applicable. Drake's formula is based on the same assumption as the Luria-Delbrück method of the mean, i.e., that mutations occur only during the deterministic period of mutant accumulation. All the methods for calculating mutation rates from fluctuation tests are discussed and are dependent for their applicability on the model of expansion of mutant clones originally described by Luria and Delbrück and extended by Lea and Coulson.

Citation: Foster P. 2007. Measuring Spontaneous Mutation Rates, p 676-683. In Reddy C, Beveridge T, Breznak J, Marzluf G, Schmidt T, Snyder L (ed), Methods for General and Molecular Microbiology, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817497.ch28

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Frameshift Mutation
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Genetic Elements
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Pyrobaculum aerophilum
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Escherichia coli
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DNA Damage
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Figures

Image of FIGURE 1
FIGURE 1

Illustration of the constant increase in the mutant fraction after a population reaches a size sufficiently large that the accumulation of mutants is simply a function of population size. Luria’s conventions are followed ( ): , the generation numbered backwards from 0; , the number of cells present at each generation; , the final number of cells in the population; μ, the mutation rate per cell (assuming a synchronous population). At each generation, there are /2 individuals that produce μ/2 new mutations, which will produce a total of μ mutant progeny by the last generation. Adapted from reference with permission of the publisher.

Citation: Foster P. 2007. Measuring Spontaneous Mutation Rates, p 676-683. In Reddy C, Beveridge T, Breznak J, Marzluf G, Schmidt T, Snyder L (ed), Methods for General and Molecular Microbiology, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817497.ch28
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Image of FIGURE 2
FIGURE 2

ln( ) versus ln() for the Luria-Delbrück distribution. The distribution (solid line) was calculated for of 1 by using equation 18. A curve (dotted line) has been fitted by the least-squares method to the upper part of the distribution [ln() ≥ 2]; it has a slope of −1.2 and an intercept of 0.6, giving an of 0.9.

Citation: Foster P. 2007. Measuring Spontaneous Mutation Rates, p 676-683. In Reddy C, Beveridge T, Breznak J, Marzluf G, Schmidt T, Snyder L (ed), Methods for General and Molecular Microbiology, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817497.ch28
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References

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Tables

Generic image for table
TABLE 1

Definition of terms

Citation: Foster P. 2007. Measuring Spontaneous Mutation Rates, p 676-683. In Reddy C, Beveridge T, Breznak J, Marzluf G, Schmidt T, Snyder L (ed), Methods for General and Molecular Microbiology, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817497.ch28

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