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Royal Society

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Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society : Biological Sciences

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Sex chromosomes are a great example of a convergent evolution at the genomic level, having evolved dozens of times just within amniotes. An intriguing question is whether this repeated evolution was random, or whether some ancestral syntenic blocks have significantly higher chance to be co-opted for the role of sex chromosomes owing to their gene content related to gonad development. Here, we summarize current knowledge on the evolutionary history of sex determination and sex chromosomes in amniotes and evaluate the hypothesis of non-random emergence of sex chromosomes. The current data on the origin of sex chromosomes in amniotes suggest that their evolution is indeed non-random. However, this non-random pattern is not very strong, and many syntenic blocks representing putatively independently evolved sex chromosomes are unique. Still, repeatedly co-opted chromosomes are an excellent model system, as independent co-option of the same genomic region for the role of sex chromosome offers a great opportunity for testing evolutionary scenarios on the sex chromosome evolution under the explicit control for the genomic background and gene identity. Future studies should use these systems more to explore the convergent/divergent evolution of sex chromosomes.

This article is part of the theme issue ‘Challenging the paradigm in sex chromosome evolution: empirical and theoretical insights with a focus on vertebrates (Part II)’.


Accepted version. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society : Biological Sciences, Vol. 376, No. 1833 (September 2021). DOI. © 2021 The Authors and published by the Royal Society. Used with permission.

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