I always hear people saying that the mutation rate is around $10^{-6}$ or $10^{-7}$. I don't even know if this number is the mutation rate of genes or of a single nucleotides and I actually (almost) never seen a referenced estimation of the mutation rate.

I know there is an impressive variance in mutation rate depending on the species we look at and depending on the genomic region we look at. Various other factors also influence the mutation rate such as ecological factors (thermal stress for example).

In multicellular eukaryotes, what is a good estimate of the mutation rate per nucleotide, per gene and per genome? How does real values vary around these estimates?

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    $\begingroup$ Actually depends on the environment also you see: Mutagens etc. BTW did you see Bert Volgenstein's paper in science last week on cancer prevalence and replication error. You would find it interesting $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Jan 8 '15 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG Thanks for the reference. No I haven't read that paper yet. Yes, I actually edited my post right before your comment to add "ecological factors" in the list of things influencing the mutation rate. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Jan 8 '15 at 17:40

The real mutation rate of any organism depends by too many factors both external, like the environment, and internal, like the error rate of the DNA polymerases and DNA-repair enzymes and even from different region in the same genome (the mutation rate of non-coding DNA tend to be higher than the one of actively used DNA).

In general however it is possible to determine an average mutation rate for a given organism and usually it is expressed in mutation per base pair (or single nucleotide) per generation. If you want to know roughly the mutation rate per gene or per genome you just need to multiply the mutation rate by the number of bases of the gene or genome.

Good papers on the topic are:

Drake JW, Charlesworth B, Charlesworth D, Crow JF (April 1998). "Rates of spontaneous mutation". Genetics 148 (4): 1667–86.

Ossowski S, Schneeberger K, Lucas-Lledó JI, et al. (January 2010). "The rate and molecular spectrum of spontaneous mutations in Arabidopsis thaliana". Science 327 (5961): 92–4.

Nachman MW, Crowell SL (September 2000). "Estimate of the mutation rate per nucleotide in humans". Genetics 156 (1): 297–304.

If you want to know about some specific organism you have to dig into the literature...

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    $\begingroup$ Hello. Welcome to bioSE. I guess the OP is aware of what mutation rates are. OP is asking information on Multicellular Eukaryotes. I understand it is a broad category. So can you, from the articles that you have listed, paste some excerpt or provide information otherwise about the estimated figures of mutation rates for the respective organisms? $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Jan 9 '15 at 18:18
  • $\begingroup$ Hello! Indeed, as WYSIWYG said, I am looking for estimates of mutation rate in multicellular eukaryotes and estimates of how the mutation rate varies (variations being caused by a whole bunch of factors as you said). Thanks for the references. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Jan 9 '15 at 18:30
  • $\begingroup$ The point is that "Multicellular Eukaryotes" is a huge category... Here are some numbers from the papers cited before genetics.org/content/148/4/1667/T5.expansion.html the paper "Rates of Spontaneous Mutation" report all the details... $\endgroup$ – alec_djinn Jan 9 '15 at 18:36
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    $\begingroup$ @alec_djinn I understand that it is a broad category. Can you please look more carefully at my previous comment. I'll upvote your answer if you do that :) $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Jan 14 '15 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ Ok...Then, summarizing the data I got from the publications above, the mutation rate per genome per replication span from 0.01 (in C.elegans) to 0.5 (in Mouse). Mutation rate per base pair per replication (that probably is a more convenient unit to use) ranges from is 1.8 × 10^−10 (Mouse) to 5.0 × 10^−11 (Human) and around 3 x 10^-10 in insects and worms... So, roughly, the average mutation rate (per base pair per replication) is 10^-11 and it can vary of +- one order of magnitude. These values seems to be valid for most of the eukaryotes but not for plants. $\endgroup$ – alec_djinn Jan 20 '15 at 14:46

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