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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1987 Dec; 84(24): 9054–9058.
PMCID: PMC299690

Rates of nucleotide substitution vary greatly among plant mitochondrial, chloroplast, and nuclear DNAs.


Comparison of plant mitochondrial (mt), chloroplast (cp) and nuclear (n) DNA sequences shows that the silent substitution rate in mtDNA is less than one-third that in cpDNA, which in turn evolves only half as fast as plant nDNA. The slower rate in mtDNA than in cpDNA is probably due to a lower mutation rate. Silent substitution rates in plant and mammalian mtDNAs differ by one or two orders of magnitude, whereas the rates in nDNAs may be similar. In cpDNA, the rate of substitution both at synonymous sites and in noncoding sequences in the inverted repeat is greatly reduced in comparison to single-copy sequences. The rate of cpDNA evolution appears to have slowed in some dicot lineages following the monocot/dicot split, and the slowdown is more conspicuous at nonsynonymous sites than at synonymous sites.

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