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Heredity (Edinb) 2019 May 01;1225:513-524. doi: 10.1038/s41437-018-0141-7.
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Is molecular evolution faster in the tropics?

Orton MG , May JA , Ly W , Lee DJ , Adamowicz SJ .

The evolutionary speed hypothesis (ESH) suggests that molecular evolutionary rates are higher among species inhabiting warmer environments. Previously, the ESH has been investigated using small numbers of latitudinally-separated sister lineages; in animals, these studies typically focused on subsets of Chordata and yielded mixed support for the ESH. This study analyzed public DNA barcode sequences from the cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) gene for six of the largest animal phyla (Arthropoda, Chordata, Mollusca, Annelida, Echinodermata, and Cnidaria) and paired latitudinally-separated taxa together informatically. Of 8037 lineage pairs, just over half (51.6%) displayed a higher molecular rate in the lineage inhabiting latitudes closer to the equator, while the remainder (48.4%) displayed a higher rate in the higher-latitude lineage. To date, this study represents the most comprehensive analysis of latitude-related molecular rate differences across animals. While a statistically-significant pattern was detected from our large sample size, our findings suggest that the EHS may not serve as a strong universal mechanism underlying the latitudinal diversity gradient and that COI molecular clocks may generally be applied across latitudes. This study also highlights the merits of using automation to analyze large DNA barcode datasets.

PubMed ID: 30202084
PMC ID: PMC6461915
Article link: Heredity (Edinb)
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