Adam's Curse: A Future without Men by Bryan Sykes

By Bryan Sykes

The inside of tale of the Y chromosome's deadly flaw, as advised by means of one of many world's top geneticists.

Male reproductive fragility has been the topic of a lot hugely publicized fresh learn. Is it attainable, requested the New York Times, that males face extinction? Bryan Sykes examines the validity of those surprising studies, concentrating on 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 common background with clinical truth, elucidating the biology of sexual replica, smooth genetics, and evolutionary biology. He finds that, whereas the Y chromosome makes man's life attainable, it additionally contains inside it the seeds of his destruction. well timed and engaging, this significant paintings covers a wealth of arguable issues, together with no matter if there's a genetic reason for male greed, aggression, and promiscuity; the potential life of a male gay gene; and what, if something, should be performed to save lots of males from a gradual, yet definite, extinction.

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Sample text

Today, however, I am going to have a proper full-size blood sample taken from the vein in my left arm. Luckily, that vein is large and conspicuous, a blue-grey tube that 35 ADAM'S CURSE nobody ever misses. But, even now, I still feel slightly sick as the needle slides in and the dark red blood flows into the vacuum tube. I take the tube, now full of my blood, along the corridors to the genetics laboratory. Within the tube a billion red blood cells hang in suspension. These tiny red globules, whose job it is to keep my tissues supplied with oxygen, contain no chromosomes and play no further part in the search for my own Y-chromosome.

But they were not. In 30 per cent of the offspring the combination was disrupted. Sturtevant gradually realized that the chromosomes, though they appeared as intact and continuous threads under the microscope, could be broken. If a chromosome broke between the two genes, then the combination of features they controlled would separate in the 57 ADAM'S CURSE next generation. But if the chromosome remained intact between the two genes, then the combination of features would stay together. Once he had made that intellectual leap, Sturtevant immediately realized why the percentages were different for different pairs of features.

Once he had made that intellectual leap, Sturtevant immediately realized why the percentages were different for different pairs of features. The rate at which the combinations were disrupted depended on how far apart their genes were on the chromosome. If the genes were a long way apart, the features would be separated in the offspring more often than if the genes were closer to one another. And since the percentages were the same for the same pairs of features no matter how many times he repeated the experiments, Sturtevant drew the farreaching conclusion that the distance between genes on a chromosome was fixed.

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