Measurements of spontaneous rates of mutations in the recent past and the near future

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2010 Apr 27;365(1544):1169-76. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2009.0286.


The rate of spontaneous mutation in natural populations is a fundamental parameter for many evolutionary phenomena. Because the rate of mutation is generally low, most of what is currently known about mutation has been obtained through indirect, complex and imprecise methodological approaches. However, in the past few years genome-wide sequencing of closely related individuals has made it possible to estimate the rates of mutation directly at the level of the DNA, avoiding most of the problems associated with using indirect methods. Here, we review the methods used in the past with an emphasis on next generation sequencing, which may soon make the accurate measurement of spontaneous mutation rates a matter of routine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Mutation*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods*