Simple Methods for Estimating the Numbers of Synonymous and Nonsynonymous Nucleotide Substitutions

Mol Biol Evol. 1986 Sep;3(5):418-26. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.molbev.a040410.


Two simple methods for estimating the numbers of synonymous and nonsynonymous nucleotide substitutions are presented. Although they give no weights to different types of codon substitutions, these methods give essentially the same results as those obtained by Miyata and Yasunaga's and by Li et al.'s methods. Computer simulation indicates that estimates of synonymous substitutions obtained by the two methods are quite accurate unless the number of nucleotide substitutions per site is very large. It is shown that all available methods tend to give an underestimate of the number of nonsynonymous substitutions when the number is large.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence*
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence*
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Globins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mutation


  • Globins