Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 26, Issue 1–2, pp 34–46 | Cite as

On the molecular evolutionary clock

  • Emile Zuckerkandl


The conceptual framework surrounding the origin of the molecular evolutionary clock and circumstances of this origin are described. In regard to the quest for the best available molecular clocks, a return to protein clocks is conditionally recommended. On the basis of recent data and certain considerations, it is pointed out that the realm of neutrality in evolution is probably less extensive than is now commonly thought, in the three distinct senses of the term neutrality—neutrality as nonfunctionality of mutations, neutrality as equifunctionality of mutations, and neutrality as a mode of fixation of mutations. The possibility is raised that complex sets of interacting components forming a system that is bounded with respect to its environment may quite generally display an intrinsic trend to a quasi-clockwise evolutionary behavior.

Key words

Molecular evolutionary clock Protein clocks Neutrality Natural selection Gene regulatory clocks 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emile Zuckerkandl
    • 1
  1. 1.Linus Pauling Institute of Science and MedicinePalo AltoUSA

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