In wild-type ATCC 23877, pigment-defective (Pig) mutants arise at a frequency of about 0.5%; this genetic instability is related to genomic rearrangements such as deletions and/or amplifications of DNA sequences. On media containing oxolinic acid and novobiocin, which interact with the A and B subunits of DNA gyrase, respectively, the frequency of variants increased dramatically. The Pig mutant frequency was increased to almost 100% on a medium containing oxolinic acid at a concentration allowing 55% survival. On solid medium containing either oxolinic acid or novobiocin at subinhibitory concentrations, most colonies exhibited a ‘patchwork’ phenotype, characterized by the presence of numerous Pig sectors. Similar phenomena were not observed on media containing the transcriptional inhibitor rifampicin or the translational inhibitor streptomycin. Many of the Pig mutants exhibited a pleiotropic phenotype and were affected in aerial mycelium formation, colony growth and/or prototrophy. Moreover, the same kinds of rearrangements (deletions and/or amplifications of DNA sequences) were found in both induced and spontaneous Pig mutants. The results suggest either that DNA gyrase is directly involved in genetic instability or that an SOS-like system is implicated.


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