Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Increased Rate of Plaque-type and Host-range Mutation following Treatment of Bacteriophage in vitro with Ethyl Methane Sulphonate


ALTHOUGH bacteriophage undergoes ‘spontaneous mutation during the course of intracellular multiplication, it has proved difficult to increase the mutation-rate (that is, to ‘induce’ mutation) by artificial means. Latarjet1 has presented evidence for an increased proportion of host-range mutants in the progeny of bacteria infected with phage T2 as a result of ultraviolet irradiation of the complex. The proportion of host-range mutants of T1 was found by Tessman2 to be increased when both host cells and virus were irradiated with ultra-violet prior to infection, but not when either component alone was irradiated. De Mars3 found an increase in the yield of plaque-type mutants when euflavine was administered during intracellular growth, and Litman and Pardee4 achieved a similar result when phage was grown through a number of cycles in a medium containing bromouracil. No increase in the mutation-rate of phage has hitherto been reported which was the consequence of treatment of the phage alone prior to infection of the host cells. I have now been able to show that treatment of phage T2 in vitro with the ethylating agent ethyl methane sulphonate results in an increase in the number of mutations to the r and h genotype in the first cycle of infection of the (untreated) host organism Escherichia coli B.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Latarjet, R., C.R. Acad. Sci., Paris, 228, 1354 (1949).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Tessman, E. S., Virology, 2, 679 (1956).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    De Mars, R. I., Nature, 172, 964 (1953).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Litman, R. M., and Pardee, A. B., Nature, 178, 529 (1956).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Ellis, E. L., and Delbrück, M., J. Gen. Physiol., 22, 365 (1939).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Adams, M. H., “Methods in Medical Research”, 2, 1 (1950).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

LOVELESS, A. Increased Rate of Plaque-type and Host-range Mutation following Treatment of Bacteriophage in vitro with Ethyl Methane Sulphonate. Nature 181, 1212–1213 (1958).

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing