Nature Reviews Genetics 7, 645-653 (August 2006) | doi:10.1038/nrg1914

Evolution on the X chromosome: unusual patterns and processes

Beatriz Vicoso1 & Brian Charlesworth1  About the authors


Although the X chromosome is usually similar to the autosomes in size and cytogenetic appearance, theoretical models predict that its hemizygosity in males may cause unusual patterns of evolution. The sequencing of several genomes has indeed revealed differences between the X chromosome and the autosomes in the rates of gene divergence, patterns of gene expression and rates of gene movement between chromosomes. A better understanding of these patterns should provide valuable information on the evolution of genes located on the X chromosome. It could also suggest solutions to more general problems in molecular evolution, such as detecting selection and estimating mutational effects on fitness.

Author affiliations

  1. Institute of Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, UK.

Correspondence to: Brian Charlesworth1 Email:


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