A germline mutation
is any detectable and heritable variation in the lineage of germ cells
in these cells are transmitted to offspring
, while, on the other hand, those in somatic
cells are not. A germline mutation gives rise to a constitutional mutation
in the offspring, that is, a mutation that is present in virtually every cell. A constitutional mutation can also occur very soon after fertilisation
, or continue from a previous constitutional mutation in a parent.
This distinction is most important in animals
, where germ cells are distinct from somatic cells. However, in plants
, the reproductive cells in a particular flower will be derived from the same meristem
as the cells in that flower
and on the stem
leading to the flower, which is a different population of cells than those that give rise to the other flowers on the plant. Single-celled organisms
have no distinction between germline and somatic tissues.
In animals, mutations are more likely to occur in sperm
than in ova
, because a larger number of cell divisions are involved in the production of sperm.
Mutations that are not germline
are somatic mutations
, which are also called acquired mutations