Tuesday, March 07, 2006


University of Chicago study overturns conventional theory in evolution (Jun '05)


1) Press Release

New data suggest that the accumulation of genetic changes is not solely determined by natural selection. A study by University of Chicago researchers contradicts conventional theory by showing that the percentage of mutations accepted in evolution is also strongly swayed by the speed at which new mutations arrive at a gene: the faster the speed of new mutations, the greater the percentage of those mutations accepted.

"We've discovered a striking phenomenon that challenges a paradigm of molecular evolution that has been around for several decades," said lead author Bruce Lahn, Ph.D., assistant professor of genetics at the University of Chicago and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. "As such, it may cause a significant shift in the field."

Full text at:


2) A highly unexpected strong correlation between fixation probability of nonsynonymous mutations and mutation rate.
[Wyckoff et al, Trends in Genetics, Jul '05]

Under prevailing theories, the nonsynonymous-to-synonymous substitution ratio (i.e. K(a)/K(s)), which measures the fixation probability of nonsynonymous mutations, is correlated with the strength of selection. In this article, we report that K(a)/K(s) is also strongly correlated with the mutation rate as measured by K(s), and that this correlation appears to have a similar magnitude as the correlation between K(a)/K(s) and selective strength. This finding cannot be reconciled with current theories. It suggests that we should re-evaluate the current paradigms of coding-sequence evolution, and that the wide use of K(a)/K(s) as a measure of selective strength needs reassessment.

Full text at:


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