MadSci Network: Molecular Biology

Re: How can you produce mutations in mold?

Date: Thu Nov 30 15:33:04 2000
Posted By: Chris Yost, PhD Microbiology
Area of science: Molecular Biology
ID: 975190090.Mb

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:


Good Luck

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