When young cells of a strain of a staphylococcus were exposed to substances noxious to the organism, variations transmissible to progeny were obtained. The variations consisted mainly in a decrease in antibiotic resistance and mouse virulence. Characters of pathogenic strains such as coagulase production, mannitol fermentation and gelatin liquefaction were also abolished.

The experiments were carried out in a way that excluded the selection of spontaneous mutants. Adaptation should also be excluded as all variations consisted in a loss or decrease of activities.

The variants when first isolated seemed unhealthy, the largest part of their progeny being non-viable and consisting of cells which grew up to a point and lysed without dividing. The results obtained were therefore attributed to a damage of the parent cell caused by the injurious agents used.


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