The faster-X effect: integrating theory and data

Trends Genet. 2013 Sep;29(9):537-44. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2013.05.009. Epub 2013 Jun 20.


Population genetics theory predicts that X (or Z) chromosomes could play disproportionate roles in speciation and evolutionary divergence, and recent genome-wide analyses have identified situations in which X or Z-linked divergence exceeds that on the autosomes (the so-called 'faster-X effect'). Here, we summarize the current state of both the theory and data surrounding the study of faster-X evolution. Our survey indicates that the faster-X effect is pervasive across a taxonomically diverse array of evolutionary lineages. These patterns could be informative of the dominance or recessivity of beneficial mutations and the nature of genetic variation acted upon by natural selection. We also identify several aspects of disagreement between these empirical results and the population genetic models used to interpret them. However, there are clearly delineated aspects of the problem for which additional modeling and collection of genomic data will address these discrepancies and provide novel insights into the population genetics of adaptation.

Keywords: X chromosome; dominance; genetics of adaptation; natural selection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics
  • Animals
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Empirical Research
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genetic Association Studies / methods
  • Genetic Loci
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutation
  • Pan troglodytes / genetics
  • Selection, Genetic
  • X Chromosome / genetics*