Methods for determining spontaneous mutation rates

Methods Enzymol. 2006;409:195-213. doi: 10.1016/S0076-6879(05)09012-9.


Spontaneous mutations arise as a result of cellular processes that act upon or damage DNA. Accurate determination of spontaneous mutation rates can contribute to our understanding of these processes and the enzymatic pathways that deal with them. The methods that are used to calculate mutation rates are based on the model for the expansion of mutant clones originally described by Luria and Delbrück (1943) and extended by Lea and Coulson (1949). The accurate determination of mutation rates depends on understanding the strengths and limitations of these methods and how to optimize a fluctuation assay for a given method. This chapter describes the proper design of a fluctuation assay, several of the methods used to calculate mutation rates, and ways to evaluate the results statistically.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutation*