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Ames test

An in vitro test for the ability of chemicals, including potential food additives, to cause mutation in bacteria (the mutagenic potential). Commonly used as a preliminary screening method to detect substances likely to be carcinogenic. The test is based on treating bacteria that are already mutant at an easily detectable locus for reversal of the mutation (e.g. a strain of bacteria that cannot grow in the absence of histidine to a form that can do so).