Biology as Poetry: Genetics

Bacteriophage Ecology Group

Silent Mutation

Change in base sequence that does not result in change in what amino acids are encoded by genes.

Note that the "silent" of silent mutation is not synonymous with no phenotypic consequence. That is, "silent mutation" tends to be a fairly narrowly defined concept, though one that includes all mutations that do not occur within the reading frames of genes as well as all those mutations that occur within reading frames but nevertheless result in synonymous changes in codons, i.e., synonymous substitutions.

To the extent that silent mutations truly are phenotypically and therefore selectively silent, that is, neutral, then they can provide in organism lineages a record of mutation accumulation that occurs due to genetic drift, that is, by stochastic processes. Such changes are crucial determinants of the functioning of molecular clocks, which are commonly employed as a means of estimating when in the past different lineages diverged, i.e., from one species or lineage into two.

For more on this topic, see Wikipedia  and Google.  Contact web master.  Return to home.