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see mutationmutation,
in biology, a sudden, random change in a gene, or unit of hereditary material, that can alter an inheritable characteristic. Most mutations are not beneficial, since any change in the delicate balance of an organism having a high level of adaptation to its environment
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a physical or chemical substance that causes permanent hereditary change.

Physical mutagens include ultraviolet radiation and all kinds of ionizing radiation, such as gamma rays, X rays, protons, and neutrons. High and low temperatures are much less capable of causing mutations.

As study intensifies, the list of compounds with mutagenic action grows longer. Among the chemical mutagens are many alkylating compounds, for example, mustard gas, dimethyl sulfate, and nitrosomethylurea; analogs of nitrogenous bases of the nucleic acids, for example, 5-bromouracil and 2-aminopurine; acridine dyes; nitrous acid; some alkaloids; formaldehyde; hydrogen peroxide and some organic peroxides; and some bio-polymers, for example, heterologous DNA and, apparently, heterologous RNA.

The most powerful chemical mutagens, which increase the frequency of mutations hundreds of times, are called super-mutagens. Some viruses might also be considered chemical mutagens, since the mutagenic factor in viruses seems to be located in their DNA or RNA.

Mutagens are apparently universal, that is, they can cause mutations in all forms of life—from viruses and bacteria to the higher plants, animals, and man. Various species differ in their mutability, that is, their sensitivity to mutagens. None of the known mutagens appear to have a lower limit of mutagenic action. However, the frequency of induced mutations decreases with the decreasing dose of mutagen to a point that matches the frequency of spontaneous mutations regularly occurring in the absence of any mutagen.

Physical and chemical mutagens are widely used in breeding agriculturally useful plants and useful microorganisms. Once the mutation is induced, the mutant is artificially removed from the population and bred as a separate species. These mutations are used in artificial selection.


See references under .


An agent that raises the frequency of mutation above the spontaneous or background rate.


a substance or agent that can induce genetic mutation
References in periodicals archive ?
The contrast in these findings suggested that different plants would respond differently to mutagenic treatments of specific dosage or concentration; it may therefore be imperative to compare the effects of different mutagens on growth parameters of crops to arrive at a valid conclusion.
Four types of mutagen tubes (balloon, wavy, swollen and thin) were observed in treatments in different percentage, the maximum percentage of mutagen tubes was wavy type (20.
Ames mutagenicity and concentration of the strong mutagen 3-chloro-4-(dichloromethyl)-5-hydroxy-2(5h)-furanone and of its geometric isomer e-2-chloro-3-(dichloromethyl)-4-oxo-butenoic acid in chlorine-treated tap waters.
16] Grant WF (1994) The present status of higher-plant bioassays for the detection of environmental mutagens.
The binding of chemical mutagens with lactic acid bacteria was reported more than two decades ago, and several workers have postulated various theories on the binding of heterocyclic amines with the cell walls.
According to Erdem and Oldacay (2004), radiation is one of the best known physical mutagens.
identified mutagens which reverted point mutations in the his operon of Salmonella typhimurium.
Kinae had previously detected MX in tap water samples taken between 1990 and 1992 in eight cities -- Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo, Kanazawa, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka and Fukuoka -- but had not traced the possible source of the mutagen until now.
Priming the rats with the extracts proved to be more effective than simultaneous administration of extract and mutagen (Jain et al.
And roasting is particularly prolific of these, as even the simplest carbohydrate, when caramelized, produces mutagens and other harmful chemicals.
If the hospital still sterilizes with ethylene oxide, a suspected carcinogen and mutagen, it must inform and protect employees, patients, and the surrounding community from related potential dangers.
His effort to understand how these proteins work has led to these surprising discoveries that APOBEC3B is a broadly important cancer mutagen.