Rates of Mutations and Transcript Errors in the Foodborne Pathogen Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica

Jiao Pan, Weiyi Li, Jiahao Ni, Kun Wu, Iain Konigsberg, Caitlyn E. Rivera, Clayton Tincher, Colin Gregory, Xia Zhou, Thomas G. Doak, Heewook Lee, Yan Wang, Xiang Gao, Michael Lynch, Hongan Long

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Because errors at the DNA level power pathogen evolution, a systematic understanding of the rate and molecular spectra of mutations could guide the avoidance and treatment of infectious diseases. We thus accumulated tens of thousands of spontaneous mutations in 768 repeatedly bottlenecked lineages of 18 strains from various geographical sites, temporal spread, and genetic backgrounds. Entailing over ∼1.36 million generations, the resultant data yield an average mutation rate of ∼0.0005 per genome per generation, with a significant within-species variation. This is one of the lowest bacterial mutation rates reported, giving direct support for a high genome stability in this pathogen resulting from high DNA-mismatch-repair efficiency and replication-machinery fidelity. Pathogenicity genes do not exhibit an accelerated mutation rate, and thus, elevated mutation rates may not be the major determinant for the diversification of toxin and secretion systems. Intriguingly, a low error rate at the transcript level is not observed, suggesting distinct fidelity of the replication and transcription machinery. This study urges more attention on the most basic evolutionary processes of even the best-known human pathogens and deepens the understanding of their genome evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbermsac081
JournalMolecular biology and evolution
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2022


  • Salmonella
  • bacteria
  • genome evolution
  • spontaneous mutation
  • transcript error

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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