Summary: The variation in penicillin titre within populations of cultures of derived from untreated conidia and from conidia treated with ethyl methanesulphonate (EMS), near-ultraviolet light in the presence of 8-methoxypsoralen (8MOP) or -methyl-” -nitro--nitrosoguanidine (NTG), each at several dose levels, was determined. Both mutagen-treated and untreated populations showed a continuous distribution of penicillin titres. The population mean titre of the mutagenized populations was decreased and the range of titres was increased relative to those of the control populations. No differences between sister cultures could be detected in three untreated populations, but nine out of ten populations derived from mutagenized conidia showed significant variation for penicillin titre. In general the magnitude of this induced variation increased with increasing dosage of the mutagen. Comparisons at fixed survival levels indicate that 8MOP mutagenesis is less effective for the induction of variation in penicillin titre than EMS or NTG mutagenesis. A statistical procedure was adopted to classify the survivors as unchanged cultures (“0”), itre-increasing mutants (“+”) or titre-decreasing mutants (“-”). The frequency of both “+” and “-” mutants increased following mutagenesis, with NTG being the most active of the three mutagens. Over all treatments, these two mutant classes were recovered with equal frequency. The frequency of “+” mutants was largely independent of mutagen dose, within the ranges used, and moderate treatments (around 10% survival) gave as high or higher frequencies than more extreme doses. All three mutagens, and in particular NTG, produced morphological mutants. These contained an increased frequency of titre-decreasing mutants, but increases in titre appeared to be independent of changes in colony morphology. Estimates based on the observed frequencies of penicillin titre mutants suggest that several hundred genes are potentially capable of affecting this continuous variable.


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