Talk:Mutation rate

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The article refers to "The review in Science’s ‘Research News’ " but gives no spcific reference.

The bit about "Eve" and 6000 years is misleading creationist propaganda (debunked ) and needs to be removed or countered

Merge this with genetic drift?[edit]

Please discuss this at the Genetic drift talk page. — Donama 06:07, 7 June 2006 (UTC)


Are you sure that the numbers given for mutation rate are accurate? I could believe that rate per base pair, but not per gene. Adam Cuerden talk 03:56, 17 February 2007 (UTC)

A related question would be: "per generation" likely refers to "per cell duplication" even in eukaryotes. So we would need an approximate figure of how that translates into generations as normally percieved in multicellular organisms. 22:11, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

Wrong mutation rates?[edit]

"DNA viruses have mutation rates between 10^-6 to 10^-8", "the mutation rate in eukaryotes is in generally 10^-4 to 10^-6"

10^-8 < 10^-6 => So the virus has a lower mutation rate than an animals/eukaryotes? ( (talk) 13:02, 24 November 2007 (UTC))

I was hoping to find some help with understanding the math of mutation rates (I'm not a geneticist or a molecular biologist - but do research and teaching on HIV, and I want to understand the numbers i'm teaching!!), and I was sad to see that this discussion is a bit old. I'm wondering, though, whether the problem with the mutation rates quoted has to do with the proofreading function of DNA polymerase, which is missing in RT. so, the errors are generated and corrected in mammals, but not in viruses (and maybe some bacteria - can't recall how efficient bacteria are at DNA proofreading) --janaki (talk) 16:25, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

-These rates are just completely wrong. We need to redo it somehow /Adar

If a mutation rate of 10^-4 to 10^-6 per bp per generation in eukaryotes was true, we would all be sterile. Cottonrabbit (talk) 03:10, 3 October 2010 (UTC)

Newer estimate for humans[edit]

I happened to run across this today ... “The average direct estimate of the combined rate of all mutations is 1.8×10-8 per nucleotide per generation ...", which comes from the paper 'Direct estimates of human per nucleotide mutation rates at 20 loci causing mendelian diseases', Alexey S. Kondrashov, Human Mutation, Volume 21 Issue 1, Pages 12 - 27 Published Online: 20 Dec 2002

Merge with Molecular clock[edit]

The article is currently in a bad state, it may be a good idea to merge it with the Molecular clock as both articles are covering the same concept. Wapondaponda (talk) 06:00, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

They are not the same concept. Mutation rate is the number of changes in an individual. Molecular clock is the number of changes in a species. Neutral theory claims that the neutral mutation rate = molecular clock rate, but neutral theory is far from proved, the current evidence is going against it.Joannamasel (talk) 17:06, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
Good point. I can understand that there is a difference between muations at the individual and mutations at the species level. It would be nice to have a source for this to include in the article. I do however believe that mutation rate and molecular clock are sometimes used interchangeably. For example in Correcting for Purifying Selection: An Improved Human Mitochondrial Molecular Clock, the authors use the term mutation rate and molecular clock interchangeably. There may be some nuanced difference in that mutation rate is an observed quantity whereas molecular clocks are done specifically for dating events. I was of the opinion that if we merged the two articles we could address these finer points. Wapondaponda (talk) 04:55, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
It is quite common, including for experts, to refer casually to "mutation rate" in the context of the molecular clock, but this is not, strictly speaking, correct language. These aren't the main pages I am interested in editing, but I would be grateful if you went ahead and corrected inaccurate uses of "mutation rate" and made them all read "divergence rate" instead.Joannamasel (talk) 14:43, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
Here are some links that contain definitions

There is a somewhat slight difference in the definitions, though there is some overlap. Wapondaponda (talk) 17:50, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

Background radiation[edit]

How much of the mutation rate is due to the background radiation from Earth and Sun? Imagine Reason (talk) 02:43, 5 November 2010 (UTC)

I think that would be very difficult to determine without being able to remove the background radiation from the Earth and Sun.
Aal42 (talk) 19:25, 22 March 2011 (UTC)

Muller showed that radiation is not a significant source of natural mutations back in 1930. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:37, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

Conversely -- as a layman, it was not obvious to me that some mutations come from copying errors, I thought they were all from radiation. So it was very confusing to me, why there was a section on evolution, i.e., "how could evolution optimize the rate of radiation?" So, I think it would help folks like me, if someone could add a sentence at the start of the "evolution" section that is something like: "Because many or most mutations are the result of transcription errors when a strand of DNA is copied, and because it is a protein [whatever it is] that is doing the copying (whose structure is itself contained in the genome), then the mutation rate for a species may vary as a result of changes to the genome." — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:03, 7 December 2014 (UTC)


This article is in terible shape right now. I'll try to get it clean up over the next few days, but any and all help is appriciated. I want to at least get the headings of everything relevent up so people can expand on them, but considering how awful it started out, I have little faith that it will get better without the concerted effort of several knowlagable people (talk) 02:59, 2 February 2012 (UTC)

"Hotspots" for Mutation[edit]

This article would benefit from a section related to other mechanisms which may affect the rate of mutation, such as naturally occurring differences in methylation on stretches of the DNA. See [ack of DNA modification creates hotspots for mutations which begins with: "The absence of a chemical alteration called methylation on some stretches of DNA makes them especially prone to mutations, according to a paper published in PLoS Genetics in May." — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:14, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

Mutation Accumulation Lines and Bateman-Mukai Method to be deleted[edit]

I suggest to delete the section on Mutation Accumulation Lines that also mentions the Bateman-Mukai Method. Neither of them are explained. Mutation Accumulation Lines appear to be based on sequencing anyway, which I suggest to use as a new header for that section. Peteruetz (talk) 17:07, 15 October 2014 (UTC)