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Appl Microbiol. 1970 Nov;20(5):810-4.

Probability distribution of drug-resistant mutants in unselected populations of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.


The fluctuation test shows that Mycobacterium tuberculosis mutates to resistance to isoniazid, streptomycin, ethambutol and rifampin spontaneously and at random. The average mutation rates for the drugs, in the same order, were calculated to be 2.56 x 10(-8), 2.95 x 10(-8), 10(-7), and 2.25 x 10(-10) mutation per bacterium per generation. The relatively high mutation rate to ethambutol resistance and the low mutation rate to rifampin resistance were confirmed by analyzing the increase in the proportion of mutants with time in a growing population of the tubercle bacilli. The highest proportions of mutants to be expected in unselected populations of the tubercle bacilli were calculated from the results of fluctuation tests.

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