Male Y chromosome is not dying, assure researchers

By Alex Saltarin, Tech Times | January 11, 9:22 PM

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Y Chromosome

A new study indicates that the Y chromosome is here to stay. The study also showed that while the Y chromosome has changed over the last 200 million years, the chromosome will continue to exist far into the future.
(Photo : Craig Cloutier)

While some experts in the scientific community fear the eventual decimation and gradual extinction of the male half of the human species, a new study has emerged that provides evidence that the Y chromosome is still thriving and will remain as such in the distant future.

The new study was announced amidst scientific reports that indicate the eventual death of the Y chromosome, which is responsible for the regulation of maleness in human zygotes. This is due to the fact that the Y chromosome has been seen as dwindling. Some scientists have actually published estimates that the Y chromosome could disappear for good in less than 5 million years and that human males may be extinct in the distant future.

Chromosomes are found in every single cell of the human body and consist of bundled up strands of DNA. These chromosomes can be found inside the cell nucleus and they are vital to the process of cell division as well as reproduction in general. There are two types of chromosomes, autosomes and sex chromosomes. Both the X chromosome and Y chromosome are considered as sex chromosomes due to the fact that they dictate whether a fertilized egg will turn out either male or female.

"The Y chromosome has lost 90 per cent[sic] of the genes it once shared with the female X chromosome," says Dr. Melissa Wilson Sayres, an American evolutionary biologist and a Miller Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. The study by lead author Wilson Sayres and coauthor Rasmus Nielsen, UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology, was published in PLOS Genetics on Jan. 9. "Our study demonstrates that the genes that have been maintained, and those that migrated from the X to the Y, are important, and the human Y is going to stick around for a long while," she said.

The study was conducted among 16 males from European and African descent. There were indeed variations found between the Y-chromosomes from the men involved in the study. However, the variations are within consistent range with the changes brought about by the process of natural selection. The study also indicates that while the Y chromosome has gone through a lot of changes over the last couple of million years, many of the genes remain and the survival of the male half of the population will continue.

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