Spermatogenesis and the Evolution of Mammalian Sex Chromosomes

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Genomic conflict, Sex-biased expression, Faster-X, Recombination, Hybrid male sterility, Speciation

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College of Natual Science and Mathematics, Biological Sciences


Developmental constraint and sexual conflict shape the evolution of heteromorphic sex chromosomes. These contrasting forces are perhaps strongest during spermatogenesis in species with XY males. In this review, we consider how the unique regulatory environment and selective pressures of spermatogenesis interact to impact sex chromosome evolution in mammals. We explore how each developmental phase of spermatogenesis influences sex chromosome gene content, structure, and rate of molecular evolution, and how these attributes may contribute to speciation. We argue that a developmental context is fundamental to understanding sex chromosome evolution and that an evolutionary perspective can shed new light on our understanding of sperm development.

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