Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 550833
Title Mutation-rate plasticity and the germline of unicellular organisms
Author(s) Aanen, Duur K.; Debets, Alfons J.M.
Source Proceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences 286 (2019)1902. - ISSN 0962-8452 - 7 p.
Department(s) PE&RC
Laboratory of Genetics
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2019
Keyword(s) asymmetrical cell division - density-associated mutation-rate plasticity - germline–soma distinction - immortal strand hypothesis - mutation rate - unicellular organisms

The mutation rate is a fundamental factor in evolutionary genetics. Recently, mutation rates were found to be strongly reduced at high density in a wide range of unicellular organisms, prokaryotic and eukaryotic. Independently, cell division was found to become more asymmetrical at increasing density in diverse organisms; some 'mother' cells continue dividing, while their 'offspring' cells do not divide further. Here, we investigate how this increased asymmetry in cell division at high density can be reconciled with reduced mutation-rate estimates. We calculated the expected number of mutant cells due to replication errors under various modes of segregation of template-DNA strands and copy-DNA strands, both under symmetrical (exponential) and asymmetrical (linear) growth. We show that the observed reduction in the mutation rate at high density can be explained if mother cells preferentially retain the template-DNA strands, since new mutations are then confined to non-dividing daughter cells, thus reducing the spread of mutant cells. Any other inheritance mode results in an increase in the number of mutant cells at higher density. The proposed hypothesis that patterns of DNA-strand segregation are density-dependent fundamentally challenges our current understanding of mutation-rate estimates and extends the distinction between germline and soma to unicellular organisms.

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