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Molecular Evolution Over the Mutational Landscape

John H. Gillespie
Evolution
Vol. 38, No. 5 (Sep., 1984), pp. 1116-1129
DOI: 10.2307/2408444
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2408444
Page Count: 14
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Molecular Evolution Over the Mutational Landscape
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Abstract

A model of molecular evolution by natural selection is described. The dynamics of the model are determined to a great extent by the nature of the mutational process of DNA. This is due to the very low nucleotide mutation rate that effectively limits natural selection to those alleles that differ from the currently fixed allele by a single nucleotide. As a consequence, it is shown that evolution should proceed in a series of bursts if natural selection is the main mechanism for the change. A typical burst of evolution is shown to involve about 1.5 to 2.5 allelic substitutions on average. One consequence of these bursts is to elevate the variance to mean ratio in the number of substitutions per unit time to a level as is commonly observed in the protein evolution data. These results appears to be very robust to many of the particulars of the model because of the role played by extreme value theory in determining the fitnesses of the alleles.

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