Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso


  • Ester Lázaro
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_1036-3


A mutant is a gene or an individual bearing a genotype that differs from the reference wild-type sequence in one or more positions. The genotypic differences can give rise to new phenotypic characteristics or not, depending on the effects that mutations have on fitness. The frequency at which a specific mutant is represented in a population depends on the rate at which the particular mutations it carries are produced and on its selective value. The presence of a certain amount of mutant individuals is beneficial for a population, as it makes possible adaptation to the continuous changes in the selective pressures.

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Molecular Evolution LaboratoryCentro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA)Torrejón de Ardoz, MadridSpain