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Appropriate Assignment of Fossil Calibration Information Minimizes the Difference between Phylogenetic and Pedigree Mutation Rates in Humans

Department of Genetics, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro 21941-902, Brazil
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Received: 13 September 2018 / Revised: 18 October 2018 / Accepted: 18 October 2018 / Published: 22 October 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Life Sciences)
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Abstract

Studies that measured mutation rates in human populations using pedigrees have reported values that differ significantly from rates estimated from the phylogenetic comparison of humans and chimpanzees. Consequently, exchanges between mutation rate values across different timescales lead to conflicting divergence time estimates. It has been argued that this variation of mutation rate estimates across hominoid evolution is in part caused by incorrect assignment of calibration information to the mean coalescent time among loci, instead of the true genetic isolation (speciation) time between humans and chimpanzees. In this study, we investigated the feasibility of estimating the human pedigree mutation rate using phylogenetic data from the genomes of great apes. We found that, when calibration information was correctly assigned to the human–chimpanzee speciation time (and not to the coalescent time), estimates of phylogenetic mutation rates were statistically equivalent to the estimates previously reported using studies of human pedigrees. We conclude that, within the range of biologically realistic ancestral generation times, part of the difference between whole-genome phylogenetic and pedigree mutation rates is due to inappropriate assignment of fossil calibration information to the mean coalescent time instead of the speciation time. Although our results focus on the human–chimpanzee divergence, our findings are general, and relevant to the inference of the timescale of the tree of life. View Full-Text
Keywords: species tree; primate evolution; speciation; coalescent; generation time species tree; primate evolution; speciation; coalescent; generation time
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Capellão, R.T.; Costa-Paiva, E.M.; Schrago, C.G. Appropriate Assignment of Fossil Calibration Information Minimizes the Difference between Phylogenetic and Pedigree Mutation Rates in Humans. Life 2018, 8, 49.

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