Testing the Effect of Metabolic Rate on DNA Variability at the Intra-Specific Level

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PLoS One
2010 McGaughran, Holland. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
We tested the metabolic rate hypothesis (whereby rates of mtDNA evolution are postulated to be mediated primarily by mutagenic by-products of respiration) by examining whether mass-specific metabolic rate was correlated with root-to-tip distance on a set of mtDNA trees for the springtail Cryptopygus antarcticus travei from sub-Antarctic Marion Island. Using Bayesian analyses and a novel application of the comparative phylogenetic method, we did not find significant evidence that contemporary metabolic rates directly correlate with mutation rate (i.e., root-to-tip distance) once the underlying phylogeny is taken into account. However, we did find significant evidence that metabolic rate is dependent on the underlying mtDNA tree, or in other words, lineages with related mtDNA also have similar metabolic rates. We anticipate that future analyses which apply this methodology to datasets with longer sequences, more taxa, or greater variability will have more power to detect a significant direct correlation between metabolic rate and mutation rate. We conclude with suggestions for future analyses that would extend the preliminary approach applied here, in particular highlighting ways to tease apart oxidative stress effects from the effects of population size and/or selection coefficients operating on the molecular evolutionary rate.
Funding: AM was supported by a New Zealand Tertiary Education Commission Top Achievers Doctoral Scholarship. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Metabolic rate, Metabolism, DNA, mtDNA, Molecular evolution, Cryptopygus antarcticus travei
McGaughran, A., & Holland, B. R. (2010). Testing the Effect of Metabolic Rate on DNA Variability at the Intra-Specific Level. Plos One, 5(3), e9686. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009686