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Science 300 (5624): 1404-1409

Copyright © 2003 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Stress-Induced Mutagenesis in Bacteria

Ivana Bjedov,1* Olivier Tenaillon,2* Bénédicte Gérard,2* Valeria Souza,3 Erick Denamur,2 Miroslav Radman,1 François Taddei,1 Ivan Matic1{dagger}

Abstract: The evolutionary significance of stress-induced mutagenesis was evaluated by studying mutagenesis in aging colonies (MAC) of Escherichia coli natural isolates. A large fraction of isolates exhibited a strong MAC, and the high MAC variability reflected the diversity of selective pressures in ecological niches. MAC depends on starvation, oxygen, and RpoS and adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate regulons; thus it may be a by-product of genetic strategies for improving survival under stress. MAC could also be selected through beneficial mutations that it generates, as shown by computer modeling and the patterns of stress-inducible and constitutive mutagenesis. We suggest that irrespective of the causes of their emergence, stress-induced mutations participate in adaptive evolution.

1 INSERM U571, Faculté de Médecine Necker-Enfants Malades, Université ParisV, 156 rue Vaugirard, 75730 ParisCedex 15, France.
2 INSERM E0339, Faculté de Médecine Xavier Bichat, Université ParisVII, 16 rue Henri Huchard, 75870 ParisCedex 18, France.
3 Departamento de Ecología Evolutiva, Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Apartado Postal 70-275, México D.F. 04510, México.

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* These authors contributed equally to this work.

{dagger} To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: matic{at}

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