Mitochondrial dysfunction is a profound feature of cancer cells and is also known to cause several mitochondrial diseases. Mutations in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) have been reported frequently in these diseases. Although many environmental agents are known to cause damage to mitochondria, rapid methods need to be developed for testing agents that cause mitochondrial dysfunction and are involved in the development of mitochondrial and other diseases. Using Saccharomyces cerevisiae, we describe the development of a colorimetric method that identifies both physical and chemical agents that cause mitochondrial dysfunction and mutation of the mitochondrial genome. This method utilizes the previously reported ade2 mutant of S.cerevisiae that produces red colonies. However, when they lose mitochondrial function the colonies turn white. This colorimetric method has helped quantify the vulnerability of mtDNA to oxidative agents. Our study reveals that the oxidative agent adriamycin causes both mutation and extensive damage to mtDNA, which leads to loss of mtDNA. Our study also reveals that the lost mtDNA fragments migrate to the nucleus and integrate into the nuclear genome. Furthermore, our analysis reveals that loss of mtDNA leads to resistance to oxidative agents. The method described in this paper should aid in the rapid identification of environmental and other agents that cause mitochondrial dysfunction and mutagenesis, agents that may be involved in the development of mitochondrial and other diseases.