On the Specificity of Adaptive Mutations
Barry G. Hall


Adaptive mutations are mutations that occur in nondividing or slowly dividing cells during prolonged nonlethal selection, and that appear to be specific to the challenge of the selection in the sense that the only mutations that arise are those that provide a growth advantage to the cell. The issue of the specificity has been controversial because it violates our most basic assumptions about the randomness of mutations with respect to their effect on the cell. Although a variety of experiments in several systems in both bacteria and yeast have claimed to demonstrate that specificity, those experiments have been subjected to a variety of technical criticisms suggesting that the specificity may not be real. Here I use the ebg system to provide evidence that when selection is applied to one specific nucleotide site within a gene, mutation occurs at that site but not at an alternative and equally mutable site within the same gene.

  • Received June 28, 1996.
  • Accepted October 2, 1996.