A phylogenomic approach reveals a low somatic mutation rate in a long-lived plant

Adam J. Orr, Amanda Padovan, David Kainer, Carsten Külheim, Lindell Bromham, Carlos Bustos-Segura, William Foley, Tonya Haff, Ji Fan Hsieh, Alejandro Morales-Suarez, Reed A. Cartwright, Robert Lanfear

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Somatic mutations can have important effects on the life history, ecology and evolution of plants, but the rate at which they accumulate is poorly understood and difficult to measure directly. Here, we develop a method to measure somatic mutations in individual plants and use it to estimate the somatic mutation rate in a large, long-lived, phenotypically mosaic Eucalyptus melliodora tree. Despite being 100 times larger than Arabidopsis, this tree has a per-generation mutation rate only ten times greater, which suggests that this species may have evolved mechanisms to reduce the mutation rate per unit of growth. This adds to a growing body of evidence that illuminates the correlated evolutionary shifts in mutation rate and life history in plants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20192364
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1922
StatePublished - Mar 11 2020


  • Bioinformatics
  • Mutation rate
  • Plants
  • Somatic mutation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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