Metabolic rate does not calibrate the molecular clock

Lanfear R, Thomas JA, Welch JJ, Brey T & Bromham L

(2007) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104, 15388-15393.

Rates of molecular evolution vary widely among lineages, but the causes of this variation remain poorly understood. It has been suggested that mass-specific metabolic rate may be one of the key factors determining the rate of molecular evolution, and that it can be used to derive "corrected" molecular clocks. However, previous studies have been hampered by a paucity of mass-specific metabolic rate data and have been largely limited to vertebrate taxa. Using mass-specific metabolic rate measurements and DNA sequence data for >300 metazoan species for 12 different genes, we find no evidence that mass-specific metabolic rate drives substitution rates. The mechanistic basis of the metabolic rate hypothesis is discussed in light of these findings.

Andrew Rambaut, 2007