Women winning gene race against men

Advertisement

The human Y-chromosome responsible for making men is rapidly shrinking, according to scientific research.

The chromosome, once as large as it’s counterpart the X-chromosome, has been tossing out genes at a furious ratea��leaving it just a fraction of its former self. The chromosome retains just 19 of its original genes and is one-twelfth the size of the X-chromosome.

Unlike the two X-chromosomes of the female, the lone Y-chromosome has no partner to swap genetic material with. This has forced the Y-chromosome to swap material with itself during replication, forcing it into a genetic bottleneck situation.

What has scientists concerned though is the rate at which the genes are disappearing. Dr. Jenny Graves, who first brought the topic to light, believes the Y-chromosome will disappear completely within the next 5 million years. In evolutionary terms, 5 million years is practically in the blink of an eye.

What does this mean for the future of men and their tiny Y-chromosome?

“It means women will have to find an alternative,” jokingly answered BHSU Instructor of Biology, Dr. David Post.

Research into the Y-chromosomes of other mammals paints a similar story.

New evidence, however, shows the rate of decay may finally be at a plateau, and that the chromosome may have retained some essential genes that would secure its existence. While the outlook is seemingly dim, there may be hope for men after all.