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Evolution. 2011 Oct;65(10):2800-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2011.01337.x. Epub 2011 Jun 20.

Do variations in substitution rates and male mutation bias correlate with life-history traits? A study of 32 mammalian genomes.

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  • 1Department of Biology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA.


Life-history traits vary substantially across species, and have been demonstrated to affect substitution rates. We compute genome-wide, branch-specific estimates of male mutation bias (the ratio of male-to-female mutation rates) across 32 mammalian genomes and study how these vary with life-history traits (generation time, metabolic rate, and sperm competition). We also investigate the influence of life-history traits on substitution rates at unconstrained sites across a wide phylogenetic range. We observe that increased generation time is the strongest predictor of variation in both substitution rates (for which it is a negative predictor) and male mutation bias (for which it is a positive predictor). Although less significant, we also observe that estimates of metabolic rate, reflecting replication-independent DNA damage and repair mechanisms, correlate negatively with autosomal substitution rates, and positively with male mutation bias. Finally, in contrast to expectations, we find no significant correlation between sperm competition and either autosomal substitution rates or male mutation bias. Our results support the important but frequently opposite effects of some, but not all, life-history traits on substitution rates.

© 2011 The Author(s). Evolution© 2011 The Society for the Study of Evolution.

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