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Mol Microbiol. 1993 Nov;10(3):465-71.

DNA rearrangements and phenotypic switching in prokaryotes.

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Department of Comparative Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham 35294.


Microorganisms have numerous strategies for coping with environmental changes. In many systems, a single cell has the capacity to generate a seemingly infinite array of phenotypic variants in just a few generations of growth. The resulting heterogeneous population is well equipped for sudden environmental change; even if only a few cells in the population possess a phenotype needed for survival, these cells have the capacity to regenerate a similarly diverse population. Phenotypic switching in these systems usually results from high-frequency DNA rearrangements which are the subject of this review.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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