Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genes Pertaining To "Maleness" Evolve More Rapidly Than Their Non-Sexual Counterparts

Date:
January 24, 2000
Source:
University Of Chicago Medical Center
Summary:
Researchers at the University of Chicago report in the January 20 issue of Nature that genes pertaining to male reproduction-those involved in sperm production, transfer and morphology-evolve much faster than their non-sexual counterparts.

Researchers at the University of Chicago report in the January 20 issue of Nature that genes pertaining to male reproduction-those involved in sperm production, transfer and morphology-evolve much faster than their non-sexual counterparts.

Chung-I Wu, Ph.D., professor and chairman of the department of ecology & evolution at the University of Chicago, together with Gerald Wyckoff, a graduate student and Wen Wang, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow, argue that sexual pressure underlies this phenomenon.

"The pressure on a male to find a mate and fertilize her eggs is constant, and the stakes of success or failure are enormous," said Wu. "Presumably, genes governing male reproduction are under continuous pressure to evolve ways to outcompete other males when it comes to fathering offspring."

In previous research, Wu and colleagues found that genes related to sperm production in fruit flies, mice and rats evolved faster than other genes. In the January 20 Nature paper, Wu and his co-authors describe the accelerated evolution of male reproductive genes in man and other primates.

"That the rapid evolution is positively, not negatively driven is important," said Wu. "Positive selection indicates that the DNA changes are doing something better for the organism as opposed to something worse or nothing at all, which would be the case if the changes were just random mutations."

The title of the paper, "Rapid Evolution of Male Reproductive Genes in the Descent of Man," makes reference to Charles Darwin's book Descent of Man. "I chose this title because Darwin talks about how the drive to mate is perhaps the strongest driving force behind evolution," Wu explained. As Darwin wrote, the advantages of "conquering other males in battle or courtship, and thus leaving a numerous progeny are in the long run greater than those derived from rather more perfect adaptation to the conditions of life."

Wu and colleagues examined a set of three homologous genes that may directly alter the morphology of sperm in humans, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans. When they compared the genes in different humans, they found that the genes were virtually identical, as would be expected in a comparison of genes from individuals of the same species.

Next, the researchers compared the genes in humans and chimps and were surprised to find that they looked very different from one another. A well established theory in genetic evolution states that even after millions of years of evolution, homologous genes in closely related species, such as humans and chimps, are barely distinguishable from one another. That the human and chimp sperm genes were so radically different suggests exceedingly rapid evolution.

"The genes in humans and chimps are evolving at the same rapid rate," added Wu. When he compared the genes in humans and gorillas, which are more distantly related, he noticed that the rate of evolution of maleness genes was still accelerated, but at a much slower rate in gorillas.

The researchers also surveyed 50 genes from humans and old world monkeys, of which 18 pertained to male reproduction and the rest did not. They found that 11 of the 18 male genes evolved much faster than the average rate of evolution of the non-sexual genes.

Wu thinks that the rapid rate of evolution of male genes is indicative of the sexual behavior of the species. Chimps exhibit very promiscuous behavior. A female may mate with numerous males during her receptive phase. The competition to attract a mate, as well as internal sperm competition, puts intense pressure on chimp male genes to evolve rapidly.

Conversely, gorillas employ a harem system where one high-ranking male has access to several females who mate only with him. In this case, the male can be relatively sure that he is the genetic father of any offspring produced by his harem. This takes some of the pressure off sperm-producing genes to mutate rapidly because they don't compete directly with other sperm in the female, said Wu.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Chicago Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Chicago Medical Center. "Genes Pertaining To "Maleness" Evolve More Rapidly Than Their Non-Sexual Counterparts." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 January 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000124075802.htm>.
University Of Chicago Medical Center. (2000, January 24). Genes Pertaining To "Maleness" Evolve More Rapidly Than Their Non-Sexual Counterparts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000124075802.htm
University Of Chicago Medical Center. "Genes Pertaining To "Maleness" Evolve More Rapidly Than Their Non-Sexual Counterparts." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000124075802.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Firefighters Rescue Puppy Stuck in Tire

Raw: Firefighters Rescue Puppy Stuck in Tire

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) It took Houston firefighters more than an hour to free a puppy who got its head stuck in a tire. (Aug. 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) A study published in the journal "Neurology" interviewed more than 19,000 people and found 15 percent suffer from being "sleep drunk." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Great White Shark Spotted Off Massachusetts Coast

Great White Shark Spotted Off Massachusetts Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) A great white shark is spotted off the shore at Duxbury beach in Massachusetts forcing beach goers out of the water. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elk Wanders Into German Office Building

Raw: Elk Wanders Into German Office Building

AP (Aug. 25, 2014) A young bull elk wandered inside the office building of a company in Dresden, Germany on Monday. The elk became trapped between a wall and glass windows while rescue workers tried to rescue him safely. (Aug. 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins