Human mutation rate slower than thought | Science News


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Human mutation rate slower than thought

Moms and dads not equal in passing down genetic typos

4:17pm, June 13, 2011

Bad news for fans of the X-Men: It may take longer to create a new class of mutant superhumans than previous estimates suggested. The first direct measurements of human mutation rates reveal that the speed at which successive generations accumulate single-letter genetic changes is much slower than previously thought.

The study, published online June 12 in Nature Genetics, also shows that some individuals mutate faster than others. That means it may be fairly common for people to inherit a disproportionate share of mutations from one parent.

Researchers from an international collaboration known as the 1000 Genomes Project deciphered the genetic blueprints of six people from two families — a mother, father and child from each — and counted up the mutations inherited by each child. From there, the team calculated the human mutation rate.

“We all mutate,” says study coauthor Philip Awadalla, a population geneticist at the Univer

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