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The importance of mutation rate genes in evolution


, : The importance of mutation rate genes in evolution. Evolution [New York] 4(3): 236-252

Experiments with a high mutation rate gene derived from a natural population of Drosophila melano-gaster show that this 2d-chromosome gene produced mutations in many other genes at an avg. rate of 10 x normal when homozygous and 2-7 x normal when heterozygous. Genetic modifiers affect both its dominance and the duration of its activity in the production of sex-linked mutations. Its major effect is in germinal tissue where it produces both lethal and visible mutations in a ratio of approx. 8:1. Inversions are also produced. An avg. of one mutation in 20 was associated with an inversion. The calculated min. rate of inversion in all chromosomes is 1 per 400 germ cells in homozygous "high" flies and 1-4 per 2000 germ cells in heterozygous flies. The mutation rate of the gene "folded" is increased more than that of other genes, while that of "yellow" is not increased by "high." The mutation rate in stocks recently isolated from the local wild population was calculated to be at least 4 times as high as that in an inbred laboratory stock. Theoretical considerations lead to the interpretation that this reflects the presence of many high mutation rate genes in natural populations. The evolutionary importance of mutator genes, as exemplified by the present data, is discussed. The thesis is advanced that mutators are the major cause of both gene mutations and inversions in natural populations, and that the majority of "spontaneous" mutations are caused by the biochemical activity of mutation rate genes.

US$19.90

DOI: 10.2307/2405334


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