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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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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


An agent that raises the frequency of mutation above the spontaneous or background rate.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


a substance or agent that can induce genetic mutation
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
All substances were categorized based on the genotoxicity data collected from the literature, harmonized CLP classification for mutagenicity, and inclusion (yes/no) in the training set of one or more of the in silico models (see Van Bossuyt et al., 2017) (Tab.
Based on the reported evidence on the ingredients of FEED-X and of the current study, it is imperative to state that FEED-X is devoid of mutagenicity and toxicity.
Kataoka et al., "Effects of roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa Linn.), a Thai medicinal plant, on the mutagenicity of various known mutagens in Salmonella typhimurium and on formation of aberrant crypt foci induced by the colon carcinogens azoxymethane and 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo-[4,5-b]pyridme in F344 rats," Food and Chemical Toxicology, vol.
Mutations to DNA, which are associated with cancer, may occur if the damage is not repaired in time [46]; therefore, determining the mutagenicity of ZnO NPs is important.
From the results presented in Figures 11 and 12, it can be concluded that, for the carcinogenicity and mutagenicity rule base as well as the rule base for Ames test, no structural alerts are identified either for bisoprolol API or for Impurity RRT 0.95.
Soil contamination detected using bacterial and plant mutagenicity tests and chemical analyses.
(1979) used bacterial reversion assays in concluding that the mutagenicity of lead chromate was due to the chromate ion and not the lead ion.
This weed is considered to be one of the causes of respiratory allergic problems, contact dermatitis, mutagenicity in human and livestock.
Ames' work linked mutagenicity and carcinogenicity, using microbes developed from salmonella and E coli bacteria to show it.
Among the topics: nuclear receptors in fish and pollutant interactions, oxidative stress, genotoxicity and mutagenicity, fish biomarkers and the evaluation of water pollution, histopathological markers in fish health assessment, emerging contaminants and endocrine system dysfunction, nanoecoltxicology, and behavioral biomarkers.
For this reason, different in vitro, short term mutagenicity tests that can be used to investigate the potential mutagenic and carcinogenic effects of these new applications have been developed.