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Genetics. Mar 1994; 136(3): 721–730.
PMCID: PMC1205879

Insertion Sequence-Related Genetic Variation in Resting Escherichia Coli K-12


Bacterial subclones recovered from an old stab culture of Escherichia coli K-12 revealed a high degree of genetic diversity, which occurred in spite of a very reduced rate of propagation during storage. This conclusion is based on a pronounced restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) detected upon hybridization with internal fragments of eight resident insertion sequences (IS). Genetic diversity was dependent on the IS considered and, in many cases, a clear consequence of IS transposition. IS5 was particularly active in the generation of variation. All subclones in which IS30 had been active testify to a burst of IS30 transposition. This was correlated with a loss of prototrophy and a reduced growth on rich media. A pedigree of the entire clone could be drawn from the RFLP patterns of the subclones. Out of 118 subclones analyzed, 68 different patterns were found but the putative ancestral population had disappeared. A few patterns were each represented by several subclones displaying improved fitness. These results offer insights into the role of IS elements in the plasticity of the E. coli genome, and they further document that enzyme-mediated DNA rearrangements do occur in resting bacterial cultures.

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Selected References

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