Experimental estimates of germline mutation rate in eukaryotes: A phylogenetic meta-analysis

Yiguan Wang, Darren J Obbard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Mutation is the ultimate source of all genetic variation, and over the last 10 years the ready availability of whole-genome sequencing has permitted direct estimation of mutation rate for many non-model species across the tree of life. In this meta-analysis, we make a comprehensive search of the literature for mutation rate estimates in eukaryotes, identifying 140 mutation accumulation (MA) and parent-offspring (PO) sequencing studies covering 134 species. Based on these data, we revisit differences in the single-nucleotide mutation (SNM) rate between different phylogenetic lineages and update the known relationships between mutation rate and generation time, genome size, and nucleotide diversity-while accounting for phylogenetic nonindependence. We do not find a significant difference between MA and PO in estimated mutation rates, but we confirm that mammal and plant lineages have higher mutation rates than arthropods and that unicellular eukaryotes have the lowest mutation rates. We find that mutation rates are higher in species with longer generation times and larger genome sizes, even when accounting for phylogenetic relationships. Moreover, although nucleotide diversity is positively correlated with mutation rate, the gradient of the relationship is significantly less than one (on a logarithmic scale), consistent with higher mutation rates in populations with smaller effective size. For the 29 species for which data are available, we find that indel mutation rates are positively correlated with nucleotide mutation rates and that short deletions are generally more common than short insertions. Nevertheless, despite recent progress, no estimates of either SNM or indel mutation rates are available for the majority of deeply branching eukaryotic lineages-or even for most animal phyla. Even among charismatic megafauna, experimental mutation rate estimates remain unknown for amphibia and scarce for reptiles and fish.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-226
Number of pages11
JournalEvolution Letters
Issue number4
Early online date19 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • de novo mutation rate
  • eukaryotes
  • indels
  • phylogeny


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