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late 14c., "action of changing," from Old French mutacion (13c.), and directly from Latin mutationem (nominative mutatio) "a changing, alteration, a turn for the worse," noun of action from past participle stem of mutare "to change" (see mutable). Genetic sense is from 1894.
mutation mu·ta·tion (myōō-tā'shən)
The act or process of being altered or changed.
An alteration or change, as in nature, form, or quality.
A sudden structural change within a gene or chromosome of an organism resulting in the creation of a new character or trait not found in the parental type.
The process by which such a sudden structural change occurs, either through an alteration in the nucleotide sequence of the DNA coding for a gene or through a change in the physical arrangement of a chromosome.
A change in the structure of the genes or chromosomes of an organism. Mutations occurring in the reproductive cells, such as an egg or sperm, can be passed from one generation to the next. Most mutations occur in junk DNA and have no discernible effects on the survivability of an organism. Of the remaining mutations, the majority have harmful effects, while a minority can increase an organism's ability to survive. A mutation that benefits a species may evolve by means of natural selection into a trait shared by some or all members of the species. See Note at sickle cell anemia.