|MadSci Network: Molecular Biology|
Hi Demi Mutations occur naturally over time in all organisms- these mutations play an important role in evolution allowing organisms to gain new valuable traits. However natural mutations occur very rarely, which is good since too many mutations would cause death to a species. Scientists have found ways to increase the frequency of mutations to help them in their research. To produce mutations in any organism the DNA sequence must be changed/altered. There are a number of ways to do this in fungi such as molds. Chemical methods and physical methods (like exposure to X-rays) can be used. In these techniques the chemical or physical action affect the accuracy of DNA replication and repair causing mistakes to be incorporated into the DNA sequence during replication and repair. Errors in the DNA sequence will cause errors in the proteins the DNA is responsible for coding. These errors can manifest in an observable mutation. In other words the mutant looks/behaves differently from the original non-mutated strain. Another method of DNA mutation is to use mobile genetic elements to insert randomly in the DNA of the fungus. When these elements insert in into DNA they may interrupt a gene sequence and then the fungus will no longer be able to produce the protein and again a mutation may be observed. I am not sure what you mean about mutations in mold affecting your school. There are some molds that can cause respiratory problems in some people and so it is important to remove these molds from environments where people live. For you to do genetic work with molds for a science project would require that you have some help from a lab to supply you with some materials and expertise. If you have a university near by you may want to contact their biology teaching labs to see if someone may be able to help you out. For some background reading on DNA and genetic mutations I suggest this website as an excellent starting point: DNA Good Luck Chris
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