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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2012 May;1256:E1-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2012.06748.x.

The genetics of sex chromosomes: evolution and implications for hybrid incompatibility.

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Department of Plant, Soil, and Insect Sciences, and Graduate Program in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003, USA.


Heteromorphic sex chromosomes, where one sex has two different types of sex chromosomes, face very different evolutionary consequences than do autosomes. Two important features of sex chromosomes arise from being present in only one copy in one of the sexes: dosage compensation and the meiotic silencing of sex chromosomes. Other differences arise because sex chromosomes spend unequal amounts of time in each sex. Thus, the impact of evolutionary processes (mutation, selection, genetic drift, and meiotic drive) differs substantially between each sex chromosome, and between the sex chromosomes and the autosomes. Sex chromosomes also play a disproportionate role in Haldane's rule and other important patterns related to hybrid incompatibility, and thus speciation. We review the consequences of sex chromosomes on hybrid incompatibility. A theme running through this review is that epigenetic processes, notably those related to chromatin, may be more important to the evolution of sex chromosomes and the evolution of hybrid incompatibility than previously recognized.

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