Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 90–92 | Cite as

Evolutionary constraints and the neutral theory

  • Thomas H. Jukes
  • Motoo Kimura
Letter to the Editor


The neutral theory of molecular evolution postulates that nucleotide substitutions inherently take place in DNA as a result of point mutations followed by random genetic drift. In the absence of selective constraints, the substitution rate reaches the maximum value set by the mutation rate. The rate in globin pseudogenes is about 5 × 10−9 substitutions per site per year in mammals. Rates slower than this indicate the presence of constraints imposed by negative (natural) selection, which rejects and discards deleterious mutations.

Key words

Neutral theory Codon usage Synonymous condons Pseudogenes 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas H. Jukes
    • 1
  • Motoo Kimura
    • 2
  1. 1.Space Sciences LaboratoryUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.National Institute of GeneticsMisima, Sizuoka-KenJapan

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