Genetica. 2021 Jun 10. doi: 10.1007/s10709-021-00124-8. Online ahead of print.
Epimutations and mutations are two dissimilar mechanisms that have contributed to the phenotypic diversities in organisms. Though dissimilar, many previous studies have revealed that the consequences of epimutations and mutations are not mutually exclusive. DNA rich in epigenetic modifications can be prone to mutations and vice versa. In order to get a better insight into the molecular evolution in organisms, it is important to consider the information of both genetic and epigenetic changes in their genomes. Understanding the similarities and differences between the consequences of epimutations and mutations is required for a better interpretation of phenotypic diversities in organisms. Factors contributing to epigenetic changes such as paramutations and mutation hotspots and, the correlation of the interdependence of mutations and epigenetic changes in DNA are important aspects that need to be considered for molecular evolutionary studies. Thus, this review explains what epimutations are, their causes, how they are similar/different from mutations, and the influence of epigenetic changes and mutations on each other, further emphasizing how molecular evolution involving both mutations and epimutations can lead to speciation. Considering this approach will aid in reorganizing taxonomic classifications, importantly, solving disparities in species identification.