The field of molecular evolution owes most of its existence to the possibility of sequencing proteins and nucleic acids. Molecular sequences provide us with precisely comparable characters, observed at or near the level of the 0066-4197/88/1215-0521$02.00 FELSENSTEIN gene, which can be examined in diverse organisms. The amount of data is very large and rising rapidly. It enables us to work in two modes: we can either use our knowledge of the evolutionary history of the species to examine the mechanisms of evolution of the molecules, or we can use knowledge of the evolution of the molecules to infer the evolutionary history of the species. It is this latter, the inference of phylogenies, that is the concern of this review. However, the techniques used to do this are also relevant to the other task. In either mode, we make use of a model of the evolutionary process. The central model of molecular evolution is one of random evolutionary changes, occurring at a stochastically constant rate. It was first introduced by ZuckerÂ kandl & Pauling (144) in the form of the "molecular clock," which is the somewhat stronger assertion that the expected rate of change was the same in all
Annual Review of Genetics – Annual Reviews
Published: Dec 1, 1988
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