Summary of methods for estimating mutation rates and their respective advantages and drawbacks

MethodWhat is measuredAdvantage(s)Drawbacks
Luria-DelbrückRate of mutation to a (selectable) phenotypeEasily assayed for appropriate phenotypesMutation rate must be converted to entire genome; does not estimate fraction of mutations that are deleterious; few phenotypes can be assayed; not feasible in vivo
Mutations in genomic sequencesAccumulated no. of mutationsMutations can be observed even in the absence of detectable phenotypes; counts can be genome-wideAccumulated total is reduced by selection and increased by no. of generations; deleterious fraction is unknown
Mutation accumulationDeclines in rate and variance of fitness with population bottlenecksProvides a mutation rate for deleterious effects, omitting neutral mutations; genome-wide; easily assayedMutations with large deleterious effects are omitted; protocol is prone to recovery of beneficial mutations that bias the estimates; not feasible in vivo