Precise estimates of mutation rate and spectrum in yeast

Yuan O. Zhu, Mark L. Siegal, David W. Hall, Dmitri A. Petrov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mutation is the ultimate source of genetic variation. The most direct and unbiased method of studying spontaneous mutations is via mutation accumulation (MA) lines. Until recently, MA experiments were limited by the cost of sequencing and thus provided us with small numbers of mutational events and therefore imprecise estimates of rates and patterns of mutation. We used whole-genome sequencing to identify nearly 1,000 spontaneous mutation events accumulated over ∼311,000 generations in 145 diploid MA lines of the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. MA experiments are usually assumed to have negligible levels of selection, but even mild selection will remove strongly deleterious events. We take advantage of such patterns of selection and show that mutation classes such as indels and aneuploidies (especially monosomies) are proportionately much more likely to contribute mutations of large effect. We also provide conservative estimates of indel, aneuploidy, environment-dependent dominant lethal, and recessive lethal mutation rates. To our knowledge, for the first time in yeast MA data, we identified a sufficiently large number of single-nucleotide mutations to measure context-dependent mutation rates and were able to (i) confirm strong AT bias of mutation in yeast driven by high rate of mutations from C/G to T/A and (ii) detect a higher rate of mutation at C/G nucleotides in two specific contexts consistent with cytosine methylation in S. cerevisiae.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E2310-E2318
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number22
StatePublished - Jun 3 2014


  • Neighbor-dependent mutation rate
  • Strongly deleterious mutation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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