Ames test


: a test for identifying potential carcinogens by studying their mutagenic effect on bacteria

Examples of Ames test in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Merck spent at least six months doing its own deep dive to test the drug’s safety, including conducting its own Ames test that also suggested the potential for mutations. Betsy McKay, WSJ, 20 Dec. 2021 Years earlier, a standard lab screening assay, called an Ames test, had suggested that the compound might introduce mutations into human DNA as well as viral RNA. Betsy McKay, WSJ, 20 Dec. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Ames test.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Bruce N. Ames born 1928 American biochemist

First Known Use

1974, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Ames test was in 1974

Dictionary Entries Near Ames test

Cite this Entry

“Ames test.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Medical Definition

Ames test

variants also Ames assay
: a test for identifying potential carcinogens by studying the frequency with which they cause histidine-producing genetic mutants in bacterial colonies of the genus Salmonella (S. typhimurium) initially lacking the ability to synthesize histidine
The compound … produced the highest score ever reported in an Ames test, a standard measure of the cancer-causing potential of toxic chemicals.Today's Chemist at Work
Dimethylnitrosamine … a known animal carcinogen—is usually a potent mutagen in the Ames assay.Science News

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