In biology, phase variation is a method for dealing with rapidly varying environments without requiring random mutation. It involves the variation of protein expression, frequently in an on-off fashion, within different parts of a bacterial population. As such the phenotype can switch at frequencies that are much higher (sometimes >1%) than classical mutation rates. Phase variation contributes to virulence by generating heterogeneity. Although it has been most commonly studied in the context of immune evasion, it is observed in many other areas as well and is employed by various types of bacteria, including Salmonella species.