genetic code & mutation rates

Keith Robison robison at lipid.harvard.edu
Thu Jul 27 06:51:20 EST 1995

HPYockey (hpyockey at aol.com) wrote:
: Chapter 7 of my book Information theory and molecular Biology discusses
: the evolution of the standard triplet genetic code from a primitive
: doublet code. The mathematical background needed to understand the
: argument is in Part I of this book. 

: Chapter 7 shows that if the primeval genetic code had a vocabulary of
: fewer than 20 amino acids, for example perhaps 8, then there should have
: evolved about 10 separate codes. These are the mitochondrial genetic codes
: usually regarded as minor differences from the standard genetic code. 
: When you read Chapter 7 please e-mail me any comment or questions. 

Disclaimer: I haven't read your book (time to go to library :-)

The main problem with this hypothesis is that the phylogenetic 
distribution of non-standard genetic codes doesn't support this
very well -- the non-standard codes show up all over the tree,
and not just in mitochondria.  I think Thomas Jukes and coworkers
have made a pretty strong argument that the non-standard codes
are a recent, derived phenomenon rather than an ancient relic.

Keith Robison
Harvard University
Department of Cellular and Developmental Biology
Department of Genetics / HHMI

robison at mito.harvard.edu 

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