The contribution of gene movement to the "two rules of speciation"

Evolution. 2010 Jun;64(6):1541-57. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2010.00990.x. Epub 2010 Mar 8.


The two "rules of speciation"--the Large X-effect and Haldane's rule--hold throughout the animal kingdom, but the underlying genetic mechanisms that cause them are still unclear. Two predominant explanations--the "dominance theory" and faster male evolution--both have some empirical support, suggesting that the genetic basis of these rules is likely multifarious. We revisit one historical explanation for these rules, based on dysfunctional genetic interactions involving genes recently moved between chromosomes. We suggest that gene movement specifically off or onto the X chromosome is another mechanism that could contribute to the two rules, especially as X chromosome movements can be subject to unique sex-specific and sex chromosome specific consequences in hybrids. Our hypothesis is supported by patterns emerging from comparative genomic data, including a strong bias in interchromosomal gene movements involving the X and an overrepresentation of male reproductive functions among chromosomally relocated genes. In addition, our model indicates that the contribution of gene movement to the two rules in any specific group will depend upon key developmental and reproductive parameters that are taxon specific. We provide several testable predictions that can be used to assess the importance of gene movement as a contributor to these rules in the future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Genes*
  • Genetic Speciation*
  • Male
  • X Chromosome*