Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 226–251 | Cite as

Nonuniformity of nucleotide substitution rates in molecular evolution: Computer simulation and analysis of 5S ribosomal RNA sequences

  • Charles L. Manske
  • David J. Chapman


The effects of temporal (among different branches of a phylogeny) and spatial (among different nucleotide sites within a gene) nonuniformities of nucleotide substitution rates on the construction of phylogenetic trees from nucleotide sequences are addressed. Spatial nonuniformity may be estimated by using Shannon's (1948) entropy formula to measure the Relative Nucleotide Variability (RNV) at each nucleotide site in an aligned set of sequences; this is demonstrated by a comparative analysis of 5S rRNAs. New methods of constructing phylogenetic trees are proposed that augment the Unweighted Pair-Group Using Arithmetic Averages (UPGMA) algorithm by estimating and compensating for both spatial and temporal nonuniformity in substitution rates. These methods are evaluated by computer simulations of 5S rRNA evolution that include both kinds of nonuniformities. It was found that the proposed Reference Ratio Method improved both the ability to reconstruct the correct topology of a tree and also the estimation of branch lengths as compared to UPGMA. A previous method (Farris et al. 1970; Klotz et al. 1979; Li 1981) was found to be less successful in reconstructing topologies when there is high probability of multiple mutations at some sites. Phylogenetic analyses of 5S rRNA sequences support the endosymbiotic origins of both chloroplasts and mitochondria, even though the latter exhibit an accelerated rate of nucleotide substitution. Phylogenetic trees also reveal an adaptive radiation within the eubacteria and another within the eukaryotes for the origins of most major phyla within each group during the Precambrian era.

Key words

5S rRNA Phylogenetics Nonuniform rates Computer simulation Precambrian evolution Molecular evolution 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles L. Manske
    • 1
  • David J. Chapman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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