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Heather Scoville

Sex Determination Influenced By Evolution

By September 12, 2011

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Many people try all kinds of crazy things to influence the sex of their unborn babies. However, researchers at Michigan State University have determined that sex is controlled by a tightly regulated set of genes. In fact, if those regulations are changed in any way, evolution kicks into high gear to make sure an organism ends up the sex it was destined to be.

The research was done on nematodes and used the variable of temperature to determine what kind of regulation was in place for sex determination. The findings showed that even with the change of temperature that stymied the controls, the organisms compensated in different ways to make sure they ended up the sex that was coded in the genes.

"Our findings show the mechanisms themselves are flexible and adaptable from an evolutionary viewpoint," said Christopher Chandler, a post-doctoral researcher who led the study. "If something goes wrong with the control mechanisms, a work-around can quickly be found to restore the balance."


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