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We performed a mutation accumulation (MA) experiment in the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum to estimate the rate and distribution of effects of spontaneous mutations affecting eight putative fitness traits. We found that the per-generation mutation rate for most fitness components is 0.0019 mutations per haploid genome per generation or larger. This rate is an order of magnitude higher than estimates for fitness components in the unicellular eukaryote Saccharomyces cerevisiae, even though the base-pair substitution rate is two orders of magnitude lower. The high rate of fitness-altering mutations observed in this species may be partially explained by a large mutational target relative to S. cerevisiae. Fitness-altering mutations also may occur primarily at simple sequence repeats, which are common throughout the genome, including in coding regions, and may represent a target that is particularly likely to give fitness effects upon mutation. The majority of mutations had deleterious effects on fitness, but there was evidence for a substantial fraction, up to 40%, being beneficial for some of the putative fitness traits. Competitive ability within the multicellular slug appears to be under weak directional selection, perhaps reflecting the fact that slugs are sometimes, but not often, comprised of multiple clones in nature. Evidence for pleiotropy among fitness components across MA lines was absent, suggesting that mutations tend to act on single fitness components.


Copyright © 2013 Hall et al. Original publication available G3 (Bethesda). 2013 Jul 8;3(7):1115-27. doi: 10.1534/g3.113.005934. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Unported License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Data deposited in the Dryad depository: doi: 10.5061/dryad.8f6nq.

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