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According to this (old) paper there are 10 times more mutations during meiosis than during mitosis. One reason for that is that recombination often causes replication error and therefore mutations. However, in many multicellular organisms, germ cells undergo many cell divisions (mitosis during development) before finally undergoing meiosis.

I think that intuitively many people (me at least) think of new mutations* that are transmitted to the offspring as mutations occurring during meiosis. I would like to have a notion of how important are the two processes (mitosis and meiosis) in generating heritable new germ-line mutations in multicellular animals.

Let's consider humans for example. Out of 100 new germ-line mutations transmitted to the babies, how many of those mutations occurred during mitosis (during the development)?


*I call "new mutations", any mutation that is transmitted to a baby but that was not present in any of the two eggs of the parents (even before the parents started the gastrulation).

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  • $\begingroup$ "Many more mutations occur during meiosis than during mitosis.": well recombinations, yes but mutations? Are you sure about it. Can you cite a reference for that? This is new to me. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Jul 8 '15 at 5:18
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    $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG I added a reference. The estimate is 10 times as large (I would have expected something more extreme though). Note that it's an old paper. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Jul 8 '15 at 13:34
  • $\begingroup$ That is an interesting info. I'm trying to check the articles citing this for any clues on mechanism. One factor in the mutation contribution would be the number of events. A gamete undergoes 1 round of meiosis but the gametocyte would go through many rounds of division. So even though mitotic mutation rate is lower than that of meiosis, the total number of mutations due to mitosis may be higher. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Jul 8 '15 at 13:44
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@Remi.b I think we can do better than 1962. Let's fast-forward here to 2014, in the post-genomic era. I think this paper provides some data relevant to your query: Possible mechanisms for Chromothripsis .

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, indeed we can probably find much better results. Note that whether or not the mutation rate is different between a given mitotic and a given meiotic event, the question remains of whether most segregating sites are polymorphic due to mitotic divisions or meiotic divisions. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Jul 9 '15 at 1:23

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