ABSTRACT A common problem in molecular comparative geno- mics is the identification of genes that are under positive, adaptive selection . Such genes are likely to be crucial for speciation, species differentiation, and func- tional specialization. However, discerning the difference between positive selection and relaxation of func- tional constraint can be difficult using current methods. Both processes generally increase the rate of ami- no acid change relative to synonymous changes within coding regions, and unless the amino acid rate is over- whelmingly high across an entire gene, the signature of positive selection can be obscured . Some methodologies do not explicitly determine the difference be- tween a relaxation of functional constraint and positive selection, leaving researchers to determine via other means whether the trajectory of a gene has been specialization or creation of a new function, or removal from the genome via a process of degeneration.
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