Buschiazzo, E., Ritland, C., Bohlmann, J. & Ritland, K. 2012. Slow but not low: genomic comparisons reveal slower evolutionary rate and higher dN/dS in conifers compared to angiosperms. BMC Evolutionary Biology 12: 8. doi: 10.1186/1471-2148-12-8
Using a fossil-established divergence time of 140 million years between spruce and pine, we extrapolated a nucleotide substitution rate of 0.68 × 10-9 synonymous substitutions per site per year. When compared to angiosperms, this indicates a dramatically slower rate of nucleotide substitution rates in conifers: on average 15-fold. Coincidentally, we found a three-fold higher dN/dS for the spruce-pine lineage compared to the poplar-Arabidopsis lineage. This joint occurrence of a slower evolutionary rate in conifers with higher dN/dS, and possibly positive selection, showcases the uniqueness of conifer genome evolution.
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