Open Access

Analysis of among-site variation in substitution patterns

  • Neeraja M. Krishnan1,
  • Sameer Z. Raina1 and
  • David D. Pollock1Email author
Biological Procedures Online6:610180

Received: 10 March 2004

Accepted: 17 August 2004


Substitution patterns among nucleotides are often assumed to be constant in phylogenetic analyses. Although variation in the average rate of substitution among sites is commonly accounted for, variation in the relative rates of specific types of substitution is not. Here, we review details of methodologies used for detecting and analyzing differences in substitution processes among predefined groups of sites. We describe how such analyses can be performed using existing phylogenetic tools, and discuss how new phylogenetic analysis tools we have recently developed can be used to provide more detailed and sensitive analyses, including study of the evolution of mutation and substitution processes. As an example we consider the mitochondrial genome, for which two types of transition deaminations (CT and AG) are strongly affected by single-strandedness during replication, resulting in a strand asymmetric mutation process. Since time spent single-stranded varies along the mitochondrial genome, their differential mutational response results in very different substitution patterns in different regions of the genome.

Indexing terms

Deamination DNA, Single-strandedness