next up previous

2.5 Mutation

During reproduction germ cells from one organism (in asexual reproduction) or two organisms (in sexual reproduction) combine to form a fertilized egg which will grow into a new organism.

There are several ways errors can creep into the construction of a germ cell. When these errors occur, a mutation is introduced, and the new individual will be different from either of its parents. Genes are basically just long strands of DNA, which can be thought of as strings formed from an alphabet of four characters ( A, C, G and T). Examples of the kinds of errors that can occur are random insertions (e.g. the string should be ATTA but instead comes out ACTTA), deletions (e.g. ATTA is copied as ATA), and substitution errors, where a different letter is used (e.g. ATGA instead of ATTA).