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Environmental and genetic influence on the rate and spectrum of spontaneous mutations in Escherichia coli.

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Gifford, Danna R 
Bhattacharyya, Anish 
Geim, Alexandra 
Marshall, Eleanor 
Krašovec, Rok 


Spontaneous mutations are the ultimate source of novel genetic variation on which evolution operates. Although mutation rate is often discussed as a single parameter in evolution, it comprises multiple distinct types of changes at the level of DNA. Moreover, the rates of these distinct changes can be independently influenced by genomic background and environmental conditions. Using fluctuation tests, we characterized the spectrum of spontaneous mutations in Escherichia coli grown in low and high glucose environments. These conditions are known to affect the rate of spontaneous mutation in wild-type MG1655, but not in a ΔluxS deletant strain - a gene with roles in both quorum sensing and the recycling of methylation products used in E. coli's DNA repair process. We find an increase in AT>GC transitions in the low glucose environment, suggesting that processes relating to the production or repair of this mutation could drive the response of overall mutation rate to glucose concentration. Interestingly, this increase in AT>GC transitions is maintained by the glucose non-responsive ΔluxS deletant. Instead, an elevated rate of GC>TA transversions, more common in a high glucose environment, leads to a net non-responsiveness of overall mutation rate for this strain. Our results show how relatively subtle changes, such as the concentration of a carbon substrate or loss of a regulatory gene, can substantially influence the amount and nature of genetic variation available to selection.



DNA repair, activated methyl cycle, antibiotic resistance, fluctuation assay, mutation rate, mutational spectrum, rifampicin, Escherichia coli, Glucose, Mutation Rate, Mutation, Escherichia coli Proteins, DNA Repair, Quorum Sensing

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Microbiology (Reading)

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Microbiology Society