Effective population size and the Faster-X effect: empirical results and their interpretation

Evolution. 2010 Mar 1;64(3):663-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2009.00853.x. Epub 2009 Sep 30.


The X or Z chromosome has several characteristics that distinguish it from the autosomes, namely hemizygosity in the heterogametic sex, and a potentially different effective population size, both of which may influence the rate and nature of evolution. In particular, there may be an accelerated rate of adaptive change for X-linked compared to autosomal coding sequences, often referred to as the Faster-X effect. Empirical studies have indicated that the strength of Faster-X evolution varies among different species, and theoretical treatments have shown that demography and mating system can substantially affect the degree of Faster-X evolution. Here we integrate genomic data on Faster-X evolution from a variety of animals with the demographic factors, mating system, and sex chromosome regulatory characteristics that may influence it. Our results suggest that differences in effective population size and mechanisms of dosage compensation may influence the perceived extent of Faster-X evolution, and help to explain several clade-specific patterns that we observe.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Birds / genetics
  • Chromosomes, Human, X / genetics
  • Dosage Compensation, Genetic
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mammals / genetics
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Mutation
  • Population Density
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sex Chromosomes / genetics
  • X Chromosome / genetics*