Friday, August 21, 2009

Estimating mutational rates and patterns from new genomic data

Mutations are the foundation of genetic diversity, yet we remain uncertain about their rates and patterns. This is because new mutations are difficult to assess experimentally as they occur at extremely low rates in individuals. Indirect estimates of mutation rates from levels of divergence or heterozygosity suffer from unknown selective and demographic biases and disregard deleterious mutations. In a paper just published by Genetics Philipp Messer demonstrates how unbiased mutation rate estimates can be obtained from polymorphism data gathered from deep sequencing projects. This promises to facilitate the assessment of several long-standing problems of evolutionary biology. The paper is also featured in the issue highlights and on the cover of Genetics' August issue.

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