Question Video: Contrasting Spontaneous and Induced Mutations Biology

Which of the following correctly differentiates between spontaneous and induced mutations? [A] Induced mutations are caused by errors in natural biological processes, whereas spontaneous mutations are caused by mutagenic agents in the environment. [B] Spontaneous mutations are caused by errors in natural biological processes, whereas induced mutations are caused by mutagenic agents in the environment.

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Video Transcript

Which of the following correctly differentiates between spontaneous and induced mutations? (A) Induced mutations are caused by errors in natural biological processes, whereas spontaneous mutations are caused by mutagenic agents in the environment. Or (B) spontaneous mutations are caused by errors in natural biological processes, whereas induced mutations are caused by mutagenic agents in the environment.

To answer this question, let’s start by understanding what exactly a mutation is. In living organisms, the genetic material is carried by a molecule called DNA. This genetic material is essentially a set of instructions in the form of genes. These genes control the function of every cell in the organism’s body. A mutation is a change in the sequence of DNA. Mutations can be beneficial or harmful. Some can help species adapt to environmental changes, while others can cause disease and impact the health of the organism.

There are many different ways that mutations can occur. These fall under two main categories: spontaneous mutations and induced mutations. Spontaneous mutations, as the name suggests, are mutations that occur randomly due to errors in the replication of DNA, which is a natural biological process. They do not occur as a result of stimuli or environmental factors.

Induced mutations occur when DNA is exposed to an agent that causes mutations. These are called mutagens. These mutagens cause mutations to occur at a rate greater than the normal rate of spontaneous mutations. Some examples of mutagenic agents are UV light, X-rays, pollutants, toxins, and chemicals.

So now that we know the definitions of these two types of mutations, we can answer our question. The statement that correctly differentiates spontaneous and induced mutations is (B). Spontaneous mutations are caused by errors in natural biological processes, whereas induced mutations are caused by mutagenic agents in the environment.

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