Send to

Choose Destination
Mol Biol Evol. 1994 Sep;11(5):715-24.

A likelihood approach for comparing synonymous and nonsynonymous nucleotide substitution rates, with application to the chloroplast genome.

Author information

Department of Statistics, North Carolina State University.


A model of DNA sequence evolution applicable to coding regions is presented. This represents the first evolutionary model that accounts for dependencies among nucleotides within a codon. The model uses the codon, as opposed to the nucleotide, as the unit of evolution, and is parameterized in terms of synonymous and nonsynonymous nucleotide substitution rates. One of the model's advantages over those used in methods for estimating synonymous and nonsynonymous substitution rates is that it completely corrects for multiple hits at a codon, rather than taking a parsimony approach and considering only pathways of minimum change between homologous codons. Likelihood-ratio versions of the relative-rate test are constructed and applied to data from the complete chloroplast DNA sequences of Oryza sativa, Nicotiana tabacum, and Marchantia polymorpha. Results of these tests confirm previous findings that substitution rates in the chloroplast genome are subject to both lineage-specific and locus-specific effects. Additionally, the new tests suggest tha the rate heterogeneity is due primarily to differences in nonsynonymous substitution rates. Simulations help confirm previous suggestions that silent sites are saturated, leaving no evidence of heterogeneity in synonymous substitution rates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center