Letter | Published:

Genetic Effects of Carbon Monoxide, Cyanide and Azide on Drosophila


THE study of chemical mutagenesis has directed attention to the possibility that the so-called spontaneous gene mutations may in fact result from the accumulation of mutagenic substances arising as a consequence of normal metabolism. In bacteria, the spontaneous mutation-rate of dividing cells may be 40 times greater than that of non-dividing cells1. On the other hand, there does not seem to be any simple relation between mutation and cell division itself2. This may be interpreted to mean that, as a result of metabolic activity associated with synthesis and growth, chemical mutagens arise and may eventually react with the genetic material. The discovery of ‘anti-mutagens’3 would appear to support this hypothesis. An anti-mutagen might directly mop up traces of the mutagen, or it might initiate further biochemical reactions serving to divert the mutagen into alternative channels.

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