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Genetics. 1988 Dec;120(4):887-97.

Adaptive evolution that requires multiple spontaneous mutations. I. Mutations involving an insertion sequence.

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  • 1Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs 06268.


Escherichia coli K12 strain chi 342LD requires two mutations in the bgl (beta-glucosidase) operon, bglR0----bglR+ and excision of IS103 from within bglF, in order to utilize salicin. In growing cells the two mutations occur at rates of 4 x 10(-8) per cell division and less than 2 x 10(-12) per cell division, respectively. In 2-3-week-old colonies on MacConkey salicin plates the double mutants occur at frequencies of 10(-8) per cell, yet the rate of an unselected mutation, resistance to valine, is unaffected. The two mutations occur sequentially. Colonies that are 8-12 days old contain from 1% to about 10% IS103 excision mutants, from which the Sal+ secondary bglR0----bglR+ mutants arise. It is shown that the excision mutants are not advantageous within colonies; thus, they must result from a burst of independent excisions late in the life of the colony. Excision of IS103 occurs only on medium containing salicin, despite the fact that the excision itself confers no detectable selective advantage and serves only to create the potential for a secondary selectively advantageous mutation.

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