Mutagens are of a physical and chemical nature. Mutagens include toxic substances (for example, colchicine), X-ray, radioactive, carcinogenic and other adverse environmental influences. Under the influence of mutagens, mutations occur. Mutagens cause disruption of the normal processes of replication, recombination, or divergence of genetic information carriers.
In the interaction of ionizing radiation (electromagnetic x-rays and gamma rays, as well as elementary particles (alpha, beta, neutrons, etc.) with the body, cell components, including DNA molecules, absorb a certain amount (dose) of energy.
Many chemical compounds that have mutagenic activity have been identified: the fibrous mineral asbestos, ethyleneamine, colchicine, benzopyrene, nitrites, aldehydes, pesticides, etc. Often these substances are also carcinogens, that is, they can cause the development of malignant neoplasms (tumors) in the body. . Some living organisms, such as viruses, have also been identified as mutagens.
It is known that among plant organisms in high altitude or arctic conditions polyploid forms are often found – a consequence of spontaneous mutations of the genome. This is due to sharp changes in temperature during the growing season.
In contact with mutagens, one must remember that they have a strong effect on the development of germ cells, on the hereditary information contained in them, on the development of the embryo in the mother’s uterus.