Variances of evolutionary rates among lineages in some proteins are larger than those expected from simple Poisson processes. This phenomenon is called overdispersion of the molecular clock. If population size N is constant, the overdispersion is observed only in a limited range of 2Nσ under the nearly neutral mutation model, where σ represents the standard deviation of selection coefficients of new mutants. In this paper, we investigated effects of changing population size on the evolutionary rate by computer simulations assuming the nearly neutral mutation model. The size was changed cyclically between two numbers, N1 and N2 (N1 > N2), in the simulations. The overdispersion is observed if 2N2σ is less than two and the state of reduced size (bottleneck state) continues for more than ~0.1/u generations, where u is the mutation rate. The overdispersion results mainly because the average fitnesses of only a portion of populations go down when the population size is reduced and only in these populations subsequent advantageous substitutions occur after the population size becomes large. Since the fitness reduction after the bottleneck is stochastic, acceleration of the evolutionary rate does not necessarily occur uniformly among loci. From these results, we argue that the nearly neutral mutation model is a candidate mechanism to explain the overdispersed molecular clock.
|Number of pages||8|
|Publication status||Published - Oct 1997|
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