Delbrück and Luria won the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine partly for this work.
The experiment [change]
In their experiment, Luria and Delbrück grew bacteria in tubes. After a period of growth, they put equal volumes of these separate cultures onto agar containing phage (virus). If virus resistance were not due to random gene mutations, then each plate should contain roughly the same number of resistant colonies. This, however was not what Delbrück and Luria found. Instead, the number of resistant colonies on each plate varied drastically.
Luria and Delbrück proposed that these results could be explained by the occurrence of a constant rate of random mutations in each generation of bacteria growing in the initial culture tubes.
- Luria, S.E.; Delbrück M. (1943). "Mutations of bacteria from virus sensitivity to virus resistance". Genetics 28 (6): 491–511. http://www.genetics.org/cgi/reprint/28/6/491.
- Newcombe, H.B. (1949). "Origin of bacterial variants". Nature 164: 150–151. doi:10.1038/164150a0.
- Slechta, E.S.; Liu J.; Andersson D.I.; Roth J.R. (2002). "Evidence that selected amplification of a bacterial lac frameshift allele stimulates Lac(+) reversion (adaptive mutation) with or without general hypermutability". Genetics 161 (3): 945–956. PMC 1462195. PMID 12136002. http://www.genetics.org/cgi/content/full/161/3/945.