Rates of ribosomal RNA evolution are uniquely accelerated in Eukaryotes

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7 Scopus citations


A novel procedure for testing the relative rates of evolution is described. The procedure, the distance-matrix rate test, consists of creating a graph that displays two complete distance matrices for two different genes derived from the same group of species, an approach made practical by numerous whole genomic sequences. The results in this paper show that the molecular clock of ribosomal RNA from Eukaryotes is uniquely accelerated and highly variable while those of Archaea and Bacteria are not. This idiosyncratic eukaryotic rRNA evolution is not observed with four different protein genes. The distance matrix rate test consists of plotting the distance of one gene (from two different species) against the distance of a second gene (from the same pair of species) in the form of a simple X-Y plot. Because it is not possible to compute variances (or co-variances in this case) that can be meaningfully compared to expectations from a Poisson process, the test does not permit calculations of an index of dispersion. In place of this, equations are given for the 95% confidence limits expected for a Poisson process. The test was applied to the proteins rps11 and rp114, as one example, and to rps11 and ssu rRNA as a second example. In addition, the cytochrome c and cytochrome c oxidase evolution from a larger group of Eukaryotes are compared to each other and that of the ssu rRNA. This graphical test shows that the evolution of the four proteins and the archael and bacterial ssu rRNA's are consistent with a Poisson process since last common ancestor. The distance-matrix rate test that is introduced in this study needs to make no assumptions regarding evolutionary rates, divergence times, or phylogenetic relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-91
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Molecular Evolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Distance-matrix
  • Longevity sensor
  • Ribosomal ssu rRNA
  • rp114
  • rps11
  • Stochastic clock

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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