By Bryan Sykes

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

Male reproductive fragility has been the topic of a lot hugely publicized contemporary study. Is it attainable, requested the New York Times, that males face extinction? Bryan Sykes examines the validity of those surprising stories, 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 historical past with clinical truth, elucidating the biology of sexual replica, glossy genetics, and evolutionary biology. He unearths that, whereas the Y chromosome makes man's life attainable, it additionally includes inside it the seeds of his destruction. well timed and interesting, this significant paintings covers a wealth of arguable subject matters, 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 something, will be performed to save lots of males from a sluggish, yet convinced, extinction.

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Which is why I am telling you about it in such exhausting detail. Once they realized what they had stumbled upon, the researchers at Columbia were alerted to the genes that bent the rules and were on the lookout for more. One of Morgan's most talented students, Arthur Sturtevant, soon 56 RIBBONS OF LIFE discovered several pairs of features that followed the same disobedient inheritance pattern. He realized that the degree to which the features were retained in the offspring was different for different pairs of these mischievous genetic characters.

For sure, within a species all members had the same number of chromosomes; but there were big differences in the total number in different species, even between ones that were 53 ADAM'S CURSE closely related. The numbers of chromosomes in a single set ranged from 4 in the tiny fruit fly to 7 in the peas Mendel used in his experiments to 15 in the lupin, 26 in the mouse and an astonishing 113 in some species of newt. The first of these, the common fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, soon emerged as a superb subject for genetic breeding experiments.

This was thanks to great improvements in the optical quality of microscope lenses and, in particular, to the use of new chemical dyes, developed for the textile industry, which could be used to stain different structures inside the cell with a palette of brilliant, strong colours. Without this treatment, the interior of cells was a colourless jumble of confusion; with them, structures inside the cell like the nucleus and the delicate tracery of the cytoplasm outside the nucleus could be seen for the very first time.

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