Menís sex chromosome is doomed?
2013-04-02 0:00

From: The Age National

The poorly designed Y chromosome that makes men is degrading rapidly and will disappear, even if humans are still around.

Evolutionary geneticist Jenny Graves says that while the process is likely to happen within the next five million years, it could have begun in some isolated groups.

"As long as something came along it its stead, we would not even suspect without checking the chromosomes," she said on Tuesday.

Professor Groves, who first made the prediction some years ago, was in Canberra to give a public lecture on the subject for the Australian Academy of Science.

There have been dissenting research papers, but her prediction hasnít changed.

"Its very bad news for all the men here," she told her audience.

Professor Graves has been studying sex-determining genes in Australian animals to shed light on human genetics.

"You would think that sex is so important it wouldnít change a lot. But it changes all over the place and the Y chromosome sort of self-destructs," she said.

Y is always in the male and active mostly in the testes - making sperm.

That is a "very dangerous" place because thereís a lot of cell division going on, she says.

With every split thereís a chance for a mutation or gene loss.

"The X chromosome is all alone in the male, but in the female it has a friend so it can swap bits and repair itself. If the Y gets a hit itís a downward spiral."


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