A decade of research on adaptive mutation has revealed a plethora of mutagenic mechanisms that may be important in evolution. The DNA synthesis associated with recombination could be an important source of spontaneous mutation in cells that are not proliferating. The movement of insertion elements can be responsive to environmental conditions. Insertion elements not only activate and inactivate genes, they also provide sequence homology that allows large-scale genomic rearrangements. Some conjugative plasmids can recombine with their host's chromosome, and may acquire chromosomal genes that could then spread through the population and even to other species. Finally, a subpopulation of transient hypermutators could be a source of multiple variant alleles, providing a mechanism for rapid evolution under adverse conditions.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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