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Journal Articles Frontiers in Genetics Year : 2020

Rates and Rocks: Strengths and Weaknesses of Molecular Dating Methods


I present here an in-depth, although non-exhaustive, review of two topics in molecular dating. Clock models, which describe the evolution of the rate of evolution, are considered first. Some of the shortcomings of popular approaches—uncorrelated clock models in particular—are presented and discussed. Autocorrelated models are shown to be more reasonable from a biological perspective. Some of the most recent autocorrelated models also rely on a coherent treatment of instantaneous and average substitution rates while previous models are based on implicit approximations. Second, I provide a brief overview of the processes involved in collecting and preparing fossil data. I then review the main techniques that use this data for calibrating the molecular clock. I argue that, in its current form, the fossilized birth-death process relies on assumptions about the mechanisms underlying fossilization and the data collection process that may negatively impact the date estimates. Node-dating approaches make better use of the data available, even though they rest on paleontologists’ intervention to prepare raw fossil data. Altogether, this study provides indications that may help practitioners in selecting appropriate methods for molecular dating. It will also hopefully participate in defining the contour of future methodological developments in the field.
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lirmm-03064771 , version 1 (14-12-2020)



Stéphane Guindon. Rates and Rocks: Strengths and Weaknesses of Molecular Dating Methods. Frontiers in Genetics, 2020, 11, pp.#526. ⟨10.3389/fgene.2020.00526⟩. ⟨lirmm-03064771⟩
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