Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why Males Produce Sperm And Females Produce Eggs

Date:
April 4, 2006
Source:
University of Queensland
Summary:
An Australian research team has solved one of biology's most fundamental questions -- why males produce sperm and females produce eggs. The finding is a breakthrough that could lead to improved infertility treatment, cancer therapy and pest management.

An Australian research team has solved one of biology's most fundamental questions – why males produce sperm and females produce eggs. The finding is a breakthrough that could lead to improved infertility treatment, cancer therapy and pest management.

The team, led by Dr Josephine Bowles and Professor Peter Koopman from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at The University of Queensland, has discovered that derivatives of Vitamin A trigger the beginning of egg and sperm production, a process known as meiosis.

The cells that eventually turn into either eggs or sperm – known as germ cells – are identical in male and female embryos.

“Whether a germ cell develops into an egg or a sperm depends on the time at which meiosis begins,” Professor Koopman said.

“In females, meiosis begins before birth and eggs are produced, whereas in males, meiosis begins after birth and the result is sperm.”

Professor Koopman and his team found that retinoic acid, a derivative of Vitamin A, causes germ cells in female embryos to begin meiosis, leading to the production of eggs.

They also discovered an enzyme present in male embryos that wipes out retinoic acid and so suppresses meiosis until after birth, resulting in sperm production.

“This is an extremely important process that nobody has been able to figure out until now,” Professor Koopman said.

“It is textbook science and it should provide the basis for a number of practical applications.”

Knowledge of what triggers and suppresses meiosis may allow researchers to improve fertility, for example in the case of an infertile couple wanting a baby, or suppress it, in the case of pest management.

Professor Koopman also suggested that an inappropriate retinoid signal might give the wrong instructions to germ cells, which could lead to the formation of germ cell tumours.

“Our research has suggested a possible cause for these common testicular cancers, opening up avenues of investigation which will hopefully one day lead to a cure,” Professor Koopman said.

The findings of the team will be published in one of the world's top scientific journals Science and will be available in its online version, SciencExpress, from March 31.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Queensland. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Queensland. "Why Males Produce Sperm And Females Produce Eggs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 April 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060404090939.htm>.
University of Queensland. (2006, April 4). Why Males Produce Sperm And Females Produce Eggs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060404090939.htm
University of Queensland. "Why Males Produce Sperm And Females Produce Eggs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060404090939.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Doctors once thought artificial sweeteners lacked the health risks of sugar, but a new study says they can impact blood sugar levels the same way. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) A healthy British volunteer is to become the first person to receive a new vaccine for the Ebola virus after US President Barack Obama called for action against the epidemic and warned it was "spiralling out of control." Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Researchers are puzzled as to why obesity rates remain relatively stable as average waistlines continue to expand. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
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