fluctuation test

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fluctuation test

[‚flək·chə′wā·shən ‚test]
(microbiology)
A method of demonstrating that bacterial mutations preexist in a population before they are selected; a large parent population is divided into small parts which are grown independently and the number of mutants in each subculture determined; the number of mutants in the subculture will fluctuate because in some a mutant arises early (giving a large number of progeny), while in others the mutant arises late and gives few progeny.