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Because most newly arising mutations are neutral or deleterious, it has been argued that the mutation rate has evolved to be as low as possible, limited only by the cost of error-avoidance and error-correction mechanisms. But up to one per cent of natural bacterial isolates are 'mutator' clones that have high mutation rates. We consider here whether high(More)
In macroscopic organisms, aging is often obvious; in single-celled organisms, where there is the greatest potential to identify the molecular mechanisms involved, identifying and quantifying aging is harder. The primary results in this area have come from organisms that share the traits of a visibly asymmetric division and an identifiable juvenile phase. As(More)
BACKGROUND Microbes engage in a remarkable array of cooperative behaviors, secreting shared proteins that are essential for foraging, shelter, microbial warfare, and virulence. These proteins are costly, rendering populations of cooperators vulnerable to exploitation by nonproducing cheaters arising by gene loss or migration. In such conditions, how can(More)
The evolutionary significance of stress-induced mutagenesis was evaluated by studying mutagenesis in aging colonies (MAC) of Escherichia coli natural isolates. A large fraction of isolates exhibited a strong MAC, and the high MAC variability reflected the diversity of selective pressures in ecological niches. MAC depends on starvation, oxygen, and RpoS and(More)
We have shown that bacterial mutation rates change during the experimental colonization of the mouse gut. A high mutation rate was initially beneficial because it allowed faster adaptation, but this benefit disappeared once adaptation was achieved. Mutator bacteria accumulated mutations that, although neutral in the mouse gut, are often deleterious in(More)
Upon nutritional limitation, the bacterium Bacillus subtilis has the capability to enter the irreversible process of sporulation. This developmental process is bistable, and only a subpopulation of cells actually differentiates into endospores. Why a cell decides to sporulate or not to do so is poorly understood. Here, through the use of time-lapse(More)
Mutation and subsequent recombination events create genetic diversity, which is subjected to natural selection. Bacterial mismatch repair (MMR) deficient mutants, exhibiting high mutation and homologous recombination rates, are frequently found in natural populations. Therefore, we have explored the possibility that MMR deficiency emerging in nature has(More)
Aging, defined as a decrease in reproduction rate with age, is a fundamental characteristic of all living organisms down to bacteria. Yet we know little about the causal molecular mechanisms of aging within the in vivo context of a wild-type organism. One of the prominent markers of aging is protein aggregation, associated with cellular degeneracy in many(More)
Speciation involves the establishment of genetic barriers between closely related organisms. The extent of genetic recombination is a key determinant and a measure of genetic isolation. The results reported here reveal that genetic barriers can be established, eliminated, or modified by manipulating two systems which control genetic recombination, SOS and(More)
Selection of mutator alleles, increasing the mutation rate up to 10, 000-fold, has been observed during in vitro experimental evolution. This spread is ascribed to the hitchhiking of mutator alleles with favorable mutations, as demonstrated by a theoretical model using selective parameters corresponding to such experiments. Observations of unexpectedly high(More)