The American Journal of Human Genetics, 25 February 2010
Female-to-Male Breeding Ratio in Modern Humans—an Analysis Based on Historical Recombinations
Damian Labuda et al.
Was the past genetic contribution of women and men to the current human population equal? Was polygyny (excess of breeding women) present among hominid lineages? We addressed these questions by measuring the ratio of population recombination rates between the X chromosome and the autosomes, ρX/ρA. The X chromosome recombines only in female meiosis, whereas autosomes undergo crossovers in both sexes; thus, ρX/ρA reflects the female-to-male breeding ratio, β. We estimated β from ρX/ρA inferred from genomic diversity data and calibrated with recombination rates derived from pedigree data. For the HapMap populations, we obtained β of 1.4 in the Yoruba from West Africa, 1.3 in Europeans, and 1.1 in East Asian samples. These values are consistent with a high prevalence of monogamy and limited polygyny in human populations. More mutations occur during male meiosis as compared to female meiosis at the rate ratio referred to as α. We show that at α ≠ 1, the divergence rates and genetic diversities of the X chromosome relative to the autosomes are complex functions of both α and β, making their independent estimation difficult. Because our estimator of β does not require any knowledge of the mutation rates, our approach should allow us to dissociate the effects of α and β on the genetic diversity and divergence rate ratios of the sex chromosomes to the autosomes.