By Bryan Sykes

The within tale of the Y chromosome's deadly flaw, as instructed by way of one of many world's best geneticists.

Male reproductive fragility has been the topic of a lot hugely publicized contemporary learn. Is it attainable, requested the New York Times, that males face extinction? Bryan Sykes examines the validity of those stunning reviews, targeting the defining attribute of guys: the Y chromosome of their DNA. Guiding his readers via chapters like "The Blood of Vikings" and "Ribbons of Life," Sykes masterfully blends average heritage with medical truth, elucidating the biology of sexual copy, smooth genetics, and evolutionary biology. He finds that, whereas the Y chromosome makes man's life attainable, it additionally incorporates inside of it the seeds of his destruction. well timed and engaging, this significant paintings covers a wealth of debatable themes, together with no matter if there's a genetic reason for male greed, aggression, and promiscuity; the prospective lifestyles of a male gay gene; and what, if whatever, might be performed to avoid wasting males from a gradual, yet definite, extinction.

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Sample text

Even nowadays, a hundred years after they were first bred experimentally, you can find a fly room in most university genetics departments, with the inevitable escapees flitting around unwashed mugs in the coffee room eager for a spilt drop of sweet liquid. As well as being a low-maintenance, fast-breeding workhorse, the fruit fly had other advantages for the geneticist. Not all fruit flies look the same. There are scores of different features which vary among individual flies. There are flies with red eyes, flies with white eyes, flies with big wings, flies with small wings, flies with lots of bristles, flies with only a few bristles and so on.

Because the chromosomes had not split as the cell divided, each egg now contained only one set of genes. Though they could not see it, because the cells were so small, the same sort of division also preceded the production of sea-urchin sperm. As the sun set on the 1800s and the twentieth century dawned, important pieces in the puzzle of genetics began to fall into place. Three independent scientists, each conducting his own plant-breeding experiments, were coming to very much the same conclusions as Mendel had done forty years previously.

First by size, long or short; then by their pattern of light and dark bands. Each one, with two important exceptions, has a twin somewhere else in the field of view, and I mentally cross them out as I find them. I am looking for the chromosomes that have no twins, the chromosomes that have come from only one parent, not from both. As I go through this process of elimination, two chromosomes begin to stand out, dissimilar in size and band pattern from any other on the slide. The smaller of these sits at the edge of the field, slightly adrift from the others.

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