Adaptive evolution of highly mutable loci in pathogenic bacteria

Curr Biol. 1994 Jan 1;4(1):24-33. doi: 10.1016/s0960-9822(00)00005-1.


Bacteria have specific loci that are highly mutable. We argue that the coexistence within bacterial genomes of such 'contingency' genes with high mutation rates, and 'housekeeping' genes with low mutation rates, is the result of adaptive evolution, and facilitates the efficient exploration of phenotypic solutions to unpredictable aspects of the host environment while minimizing deleterious effects on fitness.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity
  • Base Sequence
  • Biological Evolution*
  • DNA, Bacterial / chemistry
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Gene Conversion
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Haemophilus influenzae / genetics
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid


  • DNA, Bacterial