Selection against hypermutability in Escherichia coli during long term evolution

Mol Gen Genet. 1984;198(2):177-8. doi: 10.1007/BF00328720.


A population of a mutT strain of E. coli was maintained in a chemostat for 2,200 generations. Afterwards the rate, of mutation to resistance to three antibiotics was determined by the Luria-Delbrück fluctuation test. It was found that the strain had a distinctly reduced mutability after the long-term cultivation compared with the original strain. Nevertheless the mutability was still much higher than that of a wild-type strain. After transduction of the mutT gene into another genetic background the transductants showed the same mutability as the original strain indicating that the mutT allele itself had not changed. Our results support the hypothesis that under new environmental conditions mutator strains have an advantage due to their more efficient production of beneficial mutations. After optimal adaptation there is selection against high mutation rates due to the increased mutational load in the mutator population.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution*
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Mutation*
  • Transduction, Genetic