Evolutionary significance of stress-induced mutagenesis in bacteria

Trends Microbiol. 2004 Jun;12(6):264-70. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2004.04.002.


Mutagenesis is often increased in bacterial populations as a consequence of stress-induced genetic pathways. Analysis of the molecular mechanisms involved suggests that mutagenesis might be increased as a by-product of the stress response of the organism. By contrast, computer simulations and analyses of stress-inducible phenotypes among natural isolates of Escherichia coli suggest that stress-induced mutagenesis (SIM) could be the result of selection because of the beneficial mutations that such a process can potentially generate. Regardless of the nature of the selective pressure acting on SIM, it is possible that the resulting increased genetic variability plays an important role in bacterial evolution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological*
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli / physiology
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Mutagenesis*
  • Selection, Genetic