Fathering sons, daughters may be in man's genes

A UK researcher has a new explanation for how the human race manages to keep a fairly even balance of males and females, despite massive deaths of young males in war and selective abortion of female fetuses in certain parts of the world.


Corry Gellatly, a research scientist at Newcastle University, proposes that there's a gene that determines whether a man will father more sons, more daughters, or equal numbers of each. When females are in short supply, they have a better chance of snagging a mate, and are thus more likely to pass the gene for fathering daughters on to their offspring. And when men are scarce, they have a better chance of mating and passing along the gene for having sons. produce son


"It's kind of a counter-balancing mechanism," Gellatly explained. "You can't get a population that becomes too skewed toward males or too skewed toward females."

Fathering, produce son, produce daughter, man genes, produce

The ratio of male to female births jumped significantly at the end of each of the world wars in countries involved in the fighting. A number of hypotheses have been floated to explain why. One idea is that returning soldiers have extra-frequent sex with their partners, which could lead to fertilization earlier in the menstrual cycle, possibly making male births more likely.


After sorting through 927 family trees from North America and Europe, including 556,387 people in all, Gellatly proposes another explanation.


In an article published online in the journal Evolutionary Biology, the researcher suggests that men carry a gene that controls their ratio of X to Y sperm, and thus the likelihood of their fathering sons or daughters.Chinese Topics


Gellatly made a computer model simulating how the gene would act over 500 generations, and examined whether offspring sex ratios in the real-life family trees supported his hypothesis. Both experiments bore out his idea of a gene for gender. produce daughter


Almost all of our genes come in pairs, with one being inherited from each parent. Gellatly hypothesizes that the gender-controlling gene comes in a "male" and "female" version, with three possible combinations of the two.


A man could have a "male-male" gene, which would promote the formation of Y sperm; a "male-female" gene, which would cause him to produce about the same number of X and Y sperm; and a "female-female" gene, which would cause him to make more X sperm.


"The structure of the proposed gene is essentially very basic, and its function is simply to say 'produce more boys' or 'produce more girls,'" Gellatly explains.


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