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Archive for the ‘Male Genetics’ Category

Breakthrough: Doctors can now ‘edit’ genes in human embryos – Health24

In a first-ever experiment, geneticists have successfully modified a human embryo to remove a mutation that causes a life-threatening heart condition.

This is the first study to demonstrate that a gene-editing technique can be used in human embryos to convert mutant genes back to their normal version, the researchers said.

This new procedure tackled a genetic mutation in human embryos that causes hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an inherited condition in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick.

The mutation was successfully repaired in 72% of 18 embryos that were created in a lab using sperm from a male donor who carries the hereditary heart condition, said team member Dr Paula Amato. She is an adjunct associate professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in Portland.

Unlike other parts of the world in which cardiomyopathy is rare, heart muscle disease is endemic in Africa.

Impact on future generations

The procedure also might work in other genetic diseases caused when a person has one good copy and one mutated copy of a gene, Amato said. These include cystic fibrosis and cancers caused by mutated BRCA genes.

"This embryo gene correction method, if proven safe, can potentially be used to prevent transmission of genetic disease to future generations," Amato said.

But while the procedure is considered to be the first of its kind, human trials are not currently allowed in the United States.

A serious heart condition

Hereditary hypertrophic cardiomyopathy occurs in about one out of every 500 adults, and is passed along when a person winds up with one good copy and one mutated copy of a gene called MYBPC3, the researchers said.

There's a 50% chance that the children of a parent with the disease will inherit the genetic mutation for the disease, according to a Mayo Clinic estimate.

People with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are at increased risk of heart failure and sudden heart death. The condition is the most common cause of sudden death in otherwise healthy young athletes, researchers said in background notes.

How the 'editing' is done

To repair the problem, the research team "broke" the mutated version of the MYPBC3 gene inside human embryos, using technology that allows scientists to snip a specific target sequence on a mutant gene.

Scientists discovered that when this occurs, a DNA repair process employed within human embryos activates to fix the broken gene, using the normal copy of the gene as a template.

The result: an embryo with two healthy copies of the gene that, if implanted in a woman and allowed to gestate, should result in a baby free from risk of hereditary cardiomyopathy. Further, any children descended from that baby should also be free from this genetic risk.

The researchers found that when they performed this procedure, all the cells in corrected embryos wound up containing two normal copies of the gene, Amato said. The new report was published in the journalNature.

The next step

Researchers will next focus on testing the safety and improving the efficiency of the CRISPR-Cas9 process, possibly by using other genetic tools in combination with it, Mitalipov said. After that, they could proceed to human trials, in which the corrected embryos would be implanted with the goal of establishing pregnancy.

In the United States, the US Food and Drug Administration is prohibited from considering clinical trials related to germline genetic modification, Amato said. In addition, the US National Institutes of Health are not allowed to use federal funds to promote embryo research. It is possible that human trials could occur in another country with laws allowing such procedures, Mitalipov said.

In the area of stem cell research, South Africa allows the derivation of human embryonic stem cells from excess In vitro fertilization (IVF) embryos, and also allows for the creation of human embryos for research.

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Breakthrough: Doctors can now 'edit' genes in human embryos - Health24

Israeli Scientists Discover Genetic Mutation That Causes Male Infertility – The Jewish Press –

Photo Credit: geralt / Pixabay

Researchers from the Faculty of Health Sciences at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Fertility & In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Unit at Soroka Medical Center have discovered a new genetic mutation that causes a lack of sperm production.

Five percent of men suffer from infertility, and about one percent suffer from azoospermia, a lack of sperm production, although the reasons for this lack of sperm are still a mystery.

The study was made possible as a result of five men from a single family who were treated at Soroka Medical Center for arrest of sperm in their testes with no obvious cause.

The treatment team at the IVF Unit was led by Prof. Eitan Lunenfeld, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Profs. Ruti Parvari and Mahmoud Huleihel from the Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology & Immunology, and the Fertility Research Center discovered a mutation in a gene that is supposed to protect the full DNA sequence in the sperm.

The mutation inactivates the function of the gene and thus the production of sperm is arrested. These results link damage to this gene and infertility for the first time.

As a result of this study, in future, specific scans will be available to test for mutations in this gene, which are important for prognostic and treatment of the couples, the researchers said.

The results of the study, Mutation in TDRD9 causes non-obstructive azoospermia in infertile men, were published recently in the Journal of Medical Genetics. First author on the article is Maram Arafat from Prof. Parvaris research group.

The study was supported in part by The Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) Israel Science Foundation (ISF) (NSFC-ISF) (1183/14).

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Israeli Scientists Discover Genetic Mutation That Causes Male Infertility - The Jewish Press -

Homosexuality Partly Rooted In Genetics Rather Than Lifestyle Choice, Says Science – Medical Daily

Many of us have been curious as to why some of us are straight or gay; "Why are some of us attracted to the opposite sex?" "Why are some men attracted to men?" "Why are some women attracted to women?" Currently, we don't know why we vary in sexual orientation, but science suggests being gay at least is partly genetic, rather than a lifestyle choice.

In AsapSCIENCE's latest video, "Does Everybody Have A Gay Gene," Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown explain genetics and epigenetic factors the study of how the environment can chemically modify our genes can be used to prove that being gay is not a choice.

Read More: Study Finds Same Sex Couples Make Better Parents

A 2016 study, published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, found linkages in a specific region of the X chromosome labelled Xq28 and in another region of chromosome 8, known as 8q12, in over 400 gay siblings. Traits like hair color, height and intelligence varied between each brothers in a pair and between all groups of brothers. In other words, any single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) differences on a single letter in the genetic code found in the same genetic locations across the group would likely be associated with sexual orientation.

The region on the X chromosome, Xq28, was previously identified in 1993 by Dean Hamer of the US National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. However, there needs to be more work done to determine the specific genes involved and how they work, including if there are equivalent genes in women. The study provides researchers with the potential to narrow down fewer genes linked to sexual preference.

The belief that homosexuality is genetic can create a paradox. For example, homosexuals have 80 percent fewerchildren than heterosexuals, which suggests the genes would not be passed down and would eventually die out.

Enter epigenetics.

A 2015 study published in Science used epigenetics to propose that everyone has a gay gene, but it's contingent on whether the attachment of a methyl group to specific regions of DNA is triggered and turned on. Upon analyzing gay and straight male twins, researchers found a specific methylation pattern was closely linked to sexual orientation. The model was able to predict the sexuality of men with 70 percent accuracy.

However, a caveat of the study is its small sample size, which means there is not too much power to make such a claim. Evidently, there were certain correlations, but a predicting model may not yet be an actual reality. Larger studies are needed to replicate these findings if valid.

A specific gay gene has not been found, but there's scientific data that suggests sexual orientation is linked to genetics on a molecular level. Previous research has found giving birth to a son increases the odds of homosexuality in the next son by 33 percent. Scientists believe a woman's body adjusts the androgen level in her womb as she has more sons, and the androgens interactwith genes to produce homosexuality.

Read More: Kids Of Same-Sex Parents Have Same Emotional, Physical Health As Those With A Mom And Dad

The scientific community still has a long way to go when it comes to studying the causes of homosexuality. Currently, most research only focuses on gay men and neglect other groups, like lesbians. Further research on the genetic and epigenetic factors of homosexuality could help reduce homophobic laws around the world by proving it's not a lifestyle choice.

Science is working on proving the biology of homosexuality, but it also raises the question, does it matter if someone is straight or gay?

See Also:

Why Discrimination Against Gays Is A Global Health Hazard

Heterosexual Providers Found To Hold Bias On Sexual Orientation

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Homosexuality Partly Rooted In Genetics Rather Than Lifestyle Choice, Says Science - Medical Daily

Born this way? Researchers explore the science of gender identity – Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - While President Donald Trump has thrust transgender people back into the conflict between conservative and liberal values in the United States, geneticists are quietly working on a major research effort to unlock the secrets of gender identity.

A consortium of five research institutions in Europe and the United States, including Vanderbilt University Medical Center, George Washington University and Boston Children's Hospital, is looking to the genome, a person's complete set of DNA, for clues about whether transgender people are born that way.

Two decades of brain research have provided hints of a biological origin to being transgender, but no irrefutable conclusions.

Now scientists in the consortium have embarked on what they call the largest-ever study of its kind, searching for a genetic component to explain why people assigned one gender at birth so persistently identify as the other, often from very early childhood. (

Researchers have extracted DNA from the blood samples of 10,000 people, 3,000 of them transgender and the rest non-transgender, or cisgender. The project is awaiting grant funding to begin the next phase: testing about 3 million markers, or variations, across the genome for all of the samples.

Knowing what variations transgender people have in common, and comparing those patterns to those of cisgender people in the study, may help investigators understand what role the genome plays in everyone's gender identity.

"If the trait is strongly genetic, then people who identify as trans will share more of their genome, not because they are related in nuclear families but because they are more anciently related," said Lea Davis, leader of the study and an assistant professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt Genetics Institute.

The search for the biological underpinnings is taking on new relevance as the battle for transgender rights plays out in the U.S. political arena.

One of the first acts of the new Trump administration was to revoke Obama-era guidelines directing public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice. ( Last week, the president announced on Twitter he intends to ban transgender people from serving in the military. (

Texas lawmakers are debating a bathroom bill that would require people to use the bathroom of the sex listed on their birth certificate. ( North Carolina in March repealed a similar law after a national boycott cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in lost business. (

Currently, the only way to determine whether people are transgender is for them to self-identify as such. While civil rights activists contend that should be sufficient, scientists have taken their search to the lab.

That quest has made some transgender people nervous. If a "cause" is found it could posit a "cure," potentially opening the door to so-called reparative therapies similar to those that attempt to turn gay people straight, advocates say. Others raise concerns about the rights of those who may identify as trans but lack biological "proof."

"It's an idea that can be wielded against us, depending on the ideology of the user," said Kale Edmiston, a transgender man and postdoctoral scholar at the University of Pittsburgh specializing in neuroimaging.

Dana Bevan, a transgender woman, psychologist and author of three books on transgender topics, acknowledged the potential manipulation of research was a concern but said, "I don't believe that science can or should hold back from trying to understand what's going on."

Davis stressed that her study does not seek to produce a genetic test for being transgender, nor would it be able to. Instead, she said, she hopes the data will lead to better care for transgender people, who experience wide health disparities compared to the general population. (

One-third of transgender people reported a negative healthcare experience in the previous year such as verbal harassment, refusal of treatment or the need to teach their doctors about transgender care, according to a landmark survey of nearly 28,000 people released last year by the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Some 40 percent have attempted suicide, almost nine times the rate for the general population.

"We can use this information to help train doctors and nurses to provide better care to trans patients and to also develop amicus briefs to support equal rights legislation," said Davis, who is also director of research for Vanderbilt's gender health clinic.

The Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee has one of the world's largest DNA databanks. It also has emerged as a leader in transgender healthcare with initiatives such as the Trans Buddy Program, which pairs every transgender patient with a volunteer to help guide them through their healthcare visits.

The study has applied for a grant from the National Institutes of Health and is exploring other financial sources to provide the $1 million needed to complete the genotyping, expected to take a year to 18 months. Analysis of the data would take about another six months and require more funding, Davis said.

The other consortium members are Vrije University in Amsterdam and the FIMABIS institute in Malaga, Spain.

Until now, the bulk of research into the origins of being transgender has looked at the brain.

Neurologists have spotted clues in the brain structure and activity of transgender people that distinguish them from cisgender subjects.

A seminal 1995 study was led by Dutch neurobiologist Dick Swaab, who was also among the first scientists to discover structural differences between male and female brains. Looking at postmortem brain tissue of transgender subjects, he found that male-to-female transsexuals had clusters of cells, or nuclei, that more closely resembled those of a typical female brain, and vice versa.

Swaab's body of work on postmortem samples was based on just 12 transgender brains that he spent 25 years collecting. But it gave rise to a whole new field of inquiry that today is being explored with advanced brain scan technology on living transgender volunteers.

Among the leaders in brain scan research is Ivanka Savic, a professor of neurology with Sweden's Karolinska Institute and visiting professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Her studies suggest that transgender men have a weakened connection between the two areas of the brain that process the perception of self and one's own body. Savic said those connections seem to improve after the person receives cross-hormone treatment.

Her work has been published more than 100 times on various topics in peer-reviewed journals, but she still cannot conclude whether people are born transgender.

"I think that, but I have to prove that," Savic said.

A number of other researchers, including both geneticists and neurologists, presume a biological component that is also influenced by upbringing.

But Paul McHugh, a university professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, has emerged as the leading voice challenging the "born-this-way" hypothesis.

He encourages psychiatric therapy for transgender people, especially children, so that they accept the gender assigned to them at birth.

McHugh has gained a following among social conservatives, while incensing LGBT advocates with comments such as calling transgender people "counterfeit."

Last year he co-authored a review of the scientific literature published in The New Atlantis journal, asserting there was scant evidence to suggest sexual orientation and gender identity were biologically determined.

The article drew a rebuke from nearly 600 academics and clinicians who called it misleading.

McHugh told Reuters he was "unmoved" by his critics and says he doubts additional research will reveal a biological cause.

"If it were obvious," he said, "they would have found it long ago."

Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Marla Dickerson

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Born this way? Researchers explore the science of gender identity - Reuters

Losing your hair? There isn’t a cure for male baldness – but here are the two effective treatments –

For women, their hair is supposed to be their crowning glory - but it turns out men are just as sensitive about their barnets.

Even if you've been eating well, taking regular exercise and getting lots of sleep, you may have genetics to blame for your eventual hair loss.

It follows a distinctive pattern. Generally, a little thinning of the hair my be noticeable first form the temples and the crown of the head, followed by wider hair loss allowing more of the scalp to become visible.

This may happen to some men as early as late teenage years, but for most it happens in their late 20s and early 30s.

In the form of male pattern baldness, as described above, this is a genetic disorder.

It occurs when hair follicles convert testosterone into another hormone called hihydrotestosterone (DHY).

Affected hair follices (typically those at the sides or top of the head) become more sensitive to DHT, which causes the hair follicles to weaken, shrink and eventually die. This slows down hair production and can stop growth altogether.

Asda Partnership

There isn't a cure for hair loss or baldness, yet, but hair loss treatment can prevent further loss and even lead to renewed hair growth.

The two most effective hair loss treatment available in the UK are Minoxidil and Finasteride.

Minoxidil is a lotion or foam that you rub into your scalp, and it can be obtained from pharmacies without a prescription.

Finasteride comes in the form of an oral tablet.

Finasteride has proven to be 93% effective for the majority of men aged between 18-41 who took it for five years.

Studies have show that best results occur after two years, when hair growth is at its thickest.

Hair loss prevention only lasts while you are taking the treatement. If you stop taking Finasteride, you may lose some hair.

Earlier this year, Harold Bornstein, the doctor who looks after President Trump's health, told the New York Times that both he and The Donald take a regular small dose of the drug, which is known as Propecia in the US.

England football legend Wayne Rooney reportedly took the treatment as well before he had a hair transplant.

Asda is the only supermarket to sell the treatment without prescription, after seeing a pharmacist. It's also available from high street chemists. Prices are as follows for a 28 day supply





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Losing your hair? There isn't a cure for male baldness - but here are the two effective treatments -

Pair of lion cubs born at Idaho Falls Zoo – Post Register

The Idaho Falls Zoos lion pride grew last month following the birth of two female cubs.

The delivery comes only five months after the zoos African lioness, Kimani, became a first-time mother to a male cub, Hondo, in February.

The back-to-back pregnancies were the result of unique circumstances, a city of Idaho Falls news release said. At the advanced age of 14 with no successful pregnancies before Hondo, Kimani having cubs was doubtful.

After Hondo was separated from his mother to receive lifesaving treatment, she became pregnant again.

These two new cubs are good news, Animal Keeper Dallas LaDucer said in the release. Their mother, Kimani, has a unique set of genetics and it is important that they are passed on to future generations.

The cubs are with their mother away from public view, but zoo employees will post photos, videos and updates on the zoos Facebook page and Instagram account. The cubs will be reunited with their father and older brother after developing sufficiently, the release said.

Typically, zoo employees would expect cubs every few years, though back-to-back pregnancies are more common in the wild when a lioness loses her cubs.

The cubs join a handful of babies born at the zoo this year.

With everything that has happened with our lions, hand raising one of only 16 grey gibbons in the country, a sloth bear cub, a camel calf, the first red-crowned crane chick in the zoos history and all the other babies, it has been a wild and wonderful year at the zoo! Operations Manager Linda Beard said in the release.

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Pair of lion cubs born at Idaho Falls Zoo - Post Register

Do You Prefer Sleep Or Sex? Fruit Flies Know – Daily Beast

This weekend, many thousands of sleepy women will submit to their male partners prodding, middle-of-the-night sexual advancesbegrudgingly, at first, then perhaps with unexpected enthusiasm.

When they wake up possibly tired and contemptuous of the prodder who disturbed their rest, they may curse the patriarchy. They may blame their submissive swoons on a combination of sexist conditioning and toxic masculinity, because they are enlightened feminists.

But biology offers another explanation that could take the edge off these morning-after moods.

A new study of male and female fruit flies has found that females are receptive to sexual advances even when sleep-deprived. Males, by contrast, are less likely to court females when sleep-deprived, according to the study, which also found that males are less likely to sleep when aroused.

Published Friday in the Nature Communications journal, the study suggests that the circle of fruit fly life depends on male desire being adequately sated. And its findings about fruit flies sleep and sex patterns may shed light on whyand whenmen and women choose sleep over sex, and vice versa.

This is partly because there is a tremendous similarity in the genes of human beings and fruit flies, according to Michael Nitabach, the studys lead author and a professor of genetics and cellular physiology at Yale University.

In addition to gene similarities, fruit flies engage in numerous behaviors that human beings and other mammals engage in, including sex, sleep, learning, memory, sensory experience, and decision making.

The fruit fly is also a useful model organism for understanding the neural control of behavior, said Nitabach. They have an extensive collection of powerful genetic tools, like those we used in this study, for manipulating and measuring function in specific subsets of neurons involved in particular behaviors.

Nitabachs latest study backs up previous fruit fly research: genes already identified in prior studies as important for distinguishing male and female sex differences in anatomy, physiology and sexual behavior are also important for determining sex differences in sleep, he said.

Sexual similarities between fruit flies and humans extend well beyond how arousal affects their sleep.

Male fruit flies have a habit of chasing their pray like adolescent boys, and they engage in a kind of seduction dance that involves extending and vibrating a single wing, according to Nitabach, before mounting. The mating process lasts 15 to 25 minutes, beginning with chase and finishing when the male, well, finishes.

Nitabach and his colleagues measured the flies sexual activity by placing a male and female together in a chamber about a half inch in diameter and video-taping their behavior, he said. Extended periods of immobility determined when the flies had fallen asleep, exhausted from exertion.

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We used sophisticated genetic tools to make small numbers of specific neurons whose activity determines sex drive sensitive to temperature, said Nitabach. When we then elevated the temperature, this activated these sex-drive neurons. We then measured sleep of these flies with activated sex-drive neurons and found that in males sleep was substantially reduced.

Nitabachs study found that sex-drive neurons suppress sleep in male flies, and sleepiness suppresses their sex drive. This discovery paves the way for future studies to explore details of the connection between sex-drive and sleep-control neurons, according to Nitabach, and for further analysis of exactly how these genes regulate sleep.

Nitabach also said that sleep and sex patterns identified in male and female fruit flies may indeed apply to men and women, but confirming this hypothesis would require further experimentation.

The male fruit fly has a prodigious sperm count: the size of their ejaculate makes them record holders among animal species, according to a 2016 study at the University of Zurich. While the fruit fly is only a millimeters long, its sperm reach an impressive length of almost six centimeters, according to the studys author.

The cold, biological truth is that fatigue doesnt make female fruit flies any less receptive to sex because they cant afford to pass up an opportunity to reproduce. Tired male fruit flies, by contrast, are less likely to seduce because they cant get it up to perform.

Its not an empowering feminist narrative. But it should deter women from flagellating themselves after succumbing to their partners advances. Their submissive, middle-of-the-night swoons may have nothing to do with being weak-willed or conditioned to please men. Its just science.

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Do You Prefer Sleep Or Sex? Fruit Flies Know - Daily Beast

Akron Zoo mourns death of male snow leopard – Ravenna Record Courier

By TIM TROGLEN Staff Writer Published: July 31, 2017 12:57 PM

AKRON The Akron Zoo announced today that Roscoe, a 14-year old male snow leopard, was euthanized on July 26 after being diagnosed with a fast-growing cancer that severely affected the bone in his lower jaw.

According to Doug Piekarz, Akron Zoo president CEO, Roscoe has been a beloved member of our family since he arrived from San Antonio. He will be missed by all of us. I want to thank our professional animal care staff who cared for him attentively every day, and our veterinary care staff who so diligently treated him during his illness to ensure his welfare,

According to the Snow Leopard Trust, at least one snow leopard is killed each day in the wild. With only a few thousand left on earth, we recognize the importance of the work we are doing to ensure the Snow Leopards survival. Roscoe will continue to play a critical role with his genetics preserved to help create a more genetically diverse future generation of snow leopards.

According to zoo officials, the median life expectancy of a snow leopard is 14 years old.

Roscoe was a resident of the Akron Zoo since 2004 and sired seven cubs while in Akron, three of which are still at the zoo.

Roscoe will be missed deeply by the zoo staff, volunteers and community, said Dr. Kim Cook, Akron Zoo director of animal health and conservation. He was a laid-back cat who had a great bond with Shanti. In fact they were able to be together at all times, which is rare for snow leopards, which are typically solitary animals.

Officials noticed Roscoe was not feeling well a few weeks ago through a change in his appetite and behavior.

The vet staff at the zoo performed an exam, which led to the diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma bone cancer in Roscoes jaw. His appetite and activity began to rapidly decrease and the decision was made to humanely euthanize Roscoe. His annual preventive medicine exam last summer showed no signs of the cancer.

Snow leopards are an endangered species, and the zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan, which includes a total of 167 snow leopards. Participation in the program has led to three successful litters with Roscoe and the zoos female snow leopard Shanti. Two cubs were born in 2012 and 2014, and three cubs were born in 2016 and are still at the Akron Zoo, according to officials. The other four cubs are at other AZA-accredited zoos in the U.S.

In 2010 and 2012, the Akron Zoo worked with researchers to freeze Roscoes sperm to potentially use in the future for artificial insemination. With the advances in veterinary medicine, Roscoes legacy could continue for many generations and help prevent the extinction of snow leopards.

Roscoe was born May 18, 2003, at the San Antonio Zoo and came to the Akron Zoo Dec. 15, 2004.

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Akron Zoo mourns death of male snow leopard - Ravenna Record Courier

How Sterile Insect Technology could combat one of horticulture’s most damaging pests – ABC Online

A team of scientists in South Australia are providing a powerful new line of defence against one of horticulture's most damaging pests.

The National Sterile Insect Facility in Port Augusta, is set to produce 50 million sterile male Queensland fruit flies a week by 2019.

The ambitious three-year project is all in a bid to safeguard the multi-billion dollar horticulture industry across South Australia and Victoria.

The Sterile Insect Technology (SIT) is the first insect pest control method that uses genetics, or a widescale form of insect birth control.

The technique involves breeding fruit flies and sterilising the males with an x-ray before they are released into an area with a wild population.

These sterile male flies are then released over infested areas, where they mate with wild females who eventually become outnumbered and die out.

The $45 million SITPlus initiative, led by Horticulture Innovation Australia, complements the state-of-the-art facility in Port Augusta, approximately 350 kilometres from Adelaide.

Program director Dan Ryan took SA Country Hour for an exclusive tour through the $3.8 million factory.

He said the whole process began in the egg collection room where the team was breeding up to 50 million flies per week.

"We've got males and females in here; [they] are in there to have sex, so this is the exciting room for the flies," he said.

"What we've got is a surface that the females can overposit or lay eggs into and then we collect those eggs, we put them on a larval tray where the eggs can hatch into larvae.

"Then the larvae mature and they go to a pupal rearing room, [where] we raise the pupae. They mature inside the pupae which is just a little shell."

Flies in the SIT facility are marked with a bright pink dye so they can be identified in the wild.

(ABC Rural: Courtney Fowler)

Flies in the SIT facility are marked with a bright pink dye so they can be identified in the wild.

ABC Rural: Courtney Fowler

Mr Ryan said once the flies leave the pupal rearing room, they were covered with a distinctive dye so they could be easily identified in the wild.

"We mark the pupae because we need to know when we get out in the wild; is this a fly that's come from a factory and is sterile or is this a wild fly," he said.

"So what we do is cover them with a bright iridescent dye on the pupae, then the fly comes out of the pupae and gets covered in dye.

"We do have back-up processes to identify them; in the very rare occurrence that there is no dye on a fly we have two tests which will verify it."

Mr Ryan said from the dye-marking room, the flies are x-rayed and ready for release into the wild.

"We all think of x-rays with broken arms but these flies are getting x-rays to become sterile," he said.

"It's a very low dose of x-ray because as you can imagine, it doesn't take much to make a fly sterile but we have a 100 per cent success rate.

"[On release] these sterile flies go out and trick the wild females and the population crashes, it's a horrible trick on the wild female flies but is all part of protecting horticulture in Australia."

The larvae mature inside the pupae inside a little shell in the pupal rearing room.

(ABC Rural: Courtney Fowler)

The larvae mature inside the pupae inside a little shell in the pupal rearing room.

ABC Rural: Courtney Fowler

Queensland fruit fly destroys an estimated $300 million of fruit and vegetable crops every year.

Mr Ryan said the SIT program was a 'game-changer' for management of the Queensland fruit fly across south eastern Australia.

Queensland fruit flies destroys an estimated $300 million dollars of fruit and vegetable crops every year.

(ABC: Laurissa Smith)

Queensland fruit flies destroys an estimated $300 million dollars of fruit and vegetable crops every year.

He said the facility would not only ensure South Australia's remains fruit fly-free but would also help reduce populations across the country.

"South Australia markets horticulture overseas based on freedom from Queensland fruit fly, that's worth a lot of money to the industry," he said.

"If they lost that market access it would really impact the value of their businesses, so this is all about protecting those businesses.

"Another use is for areas where you have large isolated farms, so a good example of that might be Hillston NSW, where you've got a collection of large citrus farms and a cherry farms.

"It's a great place to put that pressure down and perhaps establish longer term another pest-free area.

"The third use is helping farmers in endemic areas manage the flies; one of the problems growers have is they can manage the fly on their farm but they're always getting reinvasion from off the farm."

SIT program director Dan Ryan says the facility aims to breed 50 million flies per week by 2019.

(ABC Rural: Courtney Fowler)

SIT program director Dan Ryan says the facility aims to breed 50 million flies per week by 2019.

ABC Rural: Courtney Fowler

Biosecurity SA executive director Will Zacharin said the facility in Port Augusta was putting South Australia on the world map in Sterile Insect Technology.

A close up picture of a Queensland fruit fly.

(Clint Jasper)

A close up picture of a Queensland fruit fly.

"It's the first purpose-built fruit-fly facility in Australia, to make sure that we could significantly ramp up the number of flies that we could get out of the factory," he said.

"This [will enable us] to provide flies right across south eastern Australia for those areas that need it.

"This is moving from a solution in a can and just trying to use chemicals to control a problem, to using new innovative technology in terms of sterile insects.

"It's going to be more long-term, it's going to be good for the producer, it's going to be good for the environment [and] its going to be good for consumers."

Mr Zacharin said he was confident the program could help other major horticultural regions across southern NSW and Victoria strive towards becoming fruit fly-free.

"We've looked at facilities overseas that produce up to a billion flies a week, so on world terms this is a small facility," he said.

"But it's about demonstrating to industries and communities that releasing sterile flies is a better way to go in the long-term.

"If we can prove this works very well in the Australian environment, there's no reason why we can't push fruit fly freedom from where we are in SA, right across the Murray corridor, into southern NSW and Victoria.

"That will increase productivity for growers and will also give them better access to international markets."

South Australia is the only mainland State which remains fruit fly free in the country.

(ABC: Damien Hooper)

South Australia is the only mainland State which remains fruit fly free in the country.

The SITPlus program is led by Horticulture Innovation Australia, in partnership with Primary Industries and Regions SA, South Australian Research and Development Institute, Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, CSIRO, Plant and Food Research Australia, NSW Department of Primary Industries and Macquarie University.

How Sterile Insect Technology could combat one of horticulture's most damaging pests - ABC Online

Genetics LadyFrontbum

Ok I managed to get them done. Woooh.

They are NON DEFAULT skins so you will need Rez Delnavas UI mod in order to use them.They come in Faces only OR the full set which includes my anatomical skins.They come in all base flesh tones and I added a bonus rainbow tone slider.


FACES ONLY mediafire / 4shared

FULL FACE & BODY SET mediafire / 4sharedThese come with my child/toddler bodies and my busty st claire and male muscular bodies.

I hope you like them. If you think I can fix anything let me know and I will keep it in mind for v2. Let me know if I stuffed anything up as well

Here are those full non-default packages you requested.I edited the male faces slightly to suit the female ones.

Let me know if I borked anything.

SILK / 4shared includes females faces, male silk faces, busty st claire and muscular bodies, Jack & Jill faces and bodies, Ladybug faces and bodies.

VELVET / 4shared includes females faces, male velvet faces, busty st claire and muscular bodies, Jack & Jill faces and bodies, Ladybug faces and bodies.

Hey guys, here are the new faces Ive been working on. I started these because I wanted an alternative to my current Naughty & Nice face skins. The nose on those is rather defined in the tip area which makes very nice button noses but not much else. I also wanted to take the time to fix a few other issues on the originals. The eyelids were bothering me, for example, among other things.

So I came up with Silk, its a smoother, more highlighted less shaded version of my original faces. The entire nose length is smooth and highlighted and I have muted a lot of the shaded areas on the face, for example the eye socket area, undereyes and the cheeks. The lip texture was smoothed and softened and the eyelid area was neatened up with the tear-ducts scaled down slightly.

Here is Silk:

From then I started playing with the nostril area and I ended up with a face that had a more defined nostril. I couldnt decide which I preferred and I knew that some of you would like silk whilst others would like velvet, so I decided to publish both.

Here is Velvet:

Here is a comparison of the three skins:

The elder face skins were also smoothed out a little to match the Silk & Velvet YA skins. The noses were changed accordingly.

Both faces come in Default and Non-Default and will match up with my Naughty & Nice and my Busty St Clair body skins.They also have custom sliders which have the names printed on them. The dots are black & white and the sliders come in a range of colours.


Silk Non Default Mediafire / 4sharedSilk Default Mediafire / 4sharedVelvet Non Default Mediafire / 4sharedVelvet Default Mediafire / 4shared

If you have previously downloaded the full set of Default Naughty & Nice Face/Body skins and wish to use one of these faces instead, then I suggest you remove the Naughty & Nice full set and just install the bodies instead then you can choose which faces you like.

You can download one of these faces as your default if you wish, and you can also have the other as a non-default. At the moment I have my Naughty & Nice faces installed, my Busty st Claire bodies and I have Silk and Velvet as non-defaults.


Credits:Escands Oh My EyesCmarNYCs SkininatorRez Delnavas UI Mod needed for Non-Defaults

Read the original here:
Genetics LadyFrontbum

When the male fruit fly gets a headache – Haaretz

We females always knew we could have sex when asleep, not that we want to, and that men can't. It turns out the same applies to fruit flies.

A vast international study by multiple institutions one can't have too many studying woo-woo in fruit flies has concluded that when male Drosophila are sleep-deprived, their interest in courtship disappears.

When the female is bushed, nothing happens to their mating behavior.

One way to deprive a fruit fly of sleep, would seem to be to offer it sex. The team also realized that aroused male Drosophilae got little sleep. Sexually aroused females slept fine.

Given the nature of the beasts, animals have to choose between sex and sleep. At least, the males do they can't do both at the same time. Now scientists have found how the choice is regulated, at least in the fruit fly.

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"An organism can only do one thing at a time," states the team, with Prof. Michael Nitabach of Yale, an expert on molecular physiology and genetics, in Nature Communications. "What we have discovered is a neuronal connection that regulates the interplay between courtship and sleep."

What Nitabach and his colleagues from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Southeast University in China, and the University of San Diego, did is to study the neuronal activity involved in sex and sleep. They found that sleep-deprived male flies lost interest in courtship, but the females' mating behavior was unaffected.

Darwin would be proud

The evolutionary explanation they offer is a trivial one. The males' behavior is easily explained as adaptive: Falling asleep during sex is not a good way to pass on your genes, they stated.

But, they wondered, why are females still receptive to male advances when sleepy? One possibility is that as the recipient, they can afford to be. Another, postulated by Nitabach, is that the females can't afford to pass up an eligible suitor. But there are a lot of fruit flies out there. Ostensibly, the females would seem to be spoiled for choice.

The team also found functional connections between the different nervous centers that mediate sex and sleep, they say. Nitabach's conclusion is that whichever behavior has the highest biological drive at a given moment physiologically suppresses the yen for the other behavior. Thus, when a boy fly wants sleep badly enough, it depresses his sex drive, and vice versa.

So, is the human drive for sex and the human desire for sleep also controlled by our neurons? Probably, at least to some degree. Just like the fruit fly, there are other factors in play.

Read the rest here:
When the male fruit fly gets a headache - Haaretz

Trinity Researchers Lead Analysis of Portugal and Spain’s Genetic History – The University Times

Grace D'ArcyAssistant News Editor

A landmark study by Trinity researchers has revealed a little more of the history of the Iberian people, giving more clarity to the impact migration had on the genetic makeup and culture of early Portuguese settlers.

This is the first time researchers have studied the impact of these migrations on this specific area of Europe and the the work by the two Trinity staff, in collaboration with colleagues in Portugal, enables scientists to examine the threads of European history and explain variations and similarities between geographic areas today.

Previous genome studies have found that it was often technological innovations in pre-history that were associated with profound population change. But this new research from Trinity sheds light on how these advancements influenced changes in the population at the edge of the Atlantic, revealing the key role of migration.

The genomes of individuals who lived on the Iberian Peninsula in the Bronze Age had minor genetic input from Steppe invaders, suggesting that these migrations played a smaller role in the genetic makeup and culture of Iberian people, compared to other parts of Europe. This likely had implications for the spread of culture, language and technology, with the relative lack of invasion possibly explaining why a pre-European language Euskera still exists in Iberia today.

Trinitys Prof Daniel Bradley and Prof Rui Martiniano worked with Ana Maria Silva of the University of Coimbra, Portugal, in developing the research. In a press statement, Bradley, the Professor of Population Genetics at Trinity, said: Unlike further north, a mix of earlier tongues and Indo-European languages persist until the dawn of Iberian history, a pattern, he said, that resonates with the real but limited influx of migrants around the Bronze Age.

Between the 4,200-3,500 BC and the Middle Bronze Age, central and northern Europe received a massive influx of people from the Steppe regions of Eastern Europe and Asia. Archaeological digs in Iberia have uncovered changes in culture and funeral rituals during this time, but no one had looked at the genetic impact of these migrations in this part of Europe before.

The researchers sequenced the genomes of 14 individuals who lived in Portugal during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages and compared them to other ancient and modern genomes. In contrast with other parts of Europe, they detected only subtle genetic changes between the Portuguese Neolithic and Bronze Age samples resulting from small-scale migration. However, these changes are more pronounced on the paternal lineage, which indicates a strong bias towards male migration in ancient times.

In a press statement, Martiniano, said: It was surprising to observe such a striking Y chromosome discontinuity between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age, such as would be consistent with a predominantly male-mediated genetic influx.

The researchers also estimated height from the samples, based on relevant DNA sequences, and found that European hunter-gatherers are significantly taller than their early Neolithic farming counterparts. Genetic input from Neolithic migrants decreased the height of Europeans, which subsequently increased steadily through later generations, due to increased interaction between populations.

Originally posted here:
Trinity Researchers Lead Analysis of Portugal and Spain's Genetic History - The University Times

Williams Professor Wins Grants to Study Evolutionary Genetics –

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. Two grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) will support ongoing research by Luana Maroja, associate professor of biology at Williams College, into evolutionary genetics. The grants, totaling $137,315, were recently approved by the NSF.

The grants will support two projects Maroja is working on related to speciation and genetics. The first grant, for $91,173, will support collaborative research Maroja and her students are undertaking with Cornell University on the importance of sex chromosomes in speciation, specifically looking at whether genes that do not transfer genetic information from one species to another during hybridization are concentrated on the X chromosome. The project will provide important insights into the genomic architecture of speciation, the role of the X chromosome in reproductive isolation and divergent adaptation, and will contribute to ongoing debates about how differentiation accumulates in genomes over time.

As part of the project, Maroja and her students will develop evolution workshops aimed to help educate middle and high school students.

The second grant of $46,142 will support a project in collaboration with Union College to understand processes that cause speciation. The project will test if chromosomal rearrangements (CRs) are involved in speciation using three distinct races of fruit flies. Maroja and her students will genetically map speciation phenotypes, male courtship song and female mating preferences for male song between two pairs of fruit fly races to determine certain traits are shared across the species. The project also will test whether CRs act to reduce gene exchange between nascent species by comparing patterns of genomic divergence inside CRs.

As part of this project, Maroja will develop evolution lab workshops aimed to help educate middle and high school students in Williamstown. She also will continue to develop workshops and labs for underserved girls and minorities in a partnership with the Flying Cloud Institute.

Maroja has taught at Williams since 2010. She has a bachelor's and master's degree from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, and in 2008 she received a Ph.D. from Cornell.

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Williams Professor Wins Grants to Study Evolutionary Genetics -

History News of the Week: The Biblical Canaanites’ Modern Descendants – New Historian

The biggest history news stories of the week, including two pioneering genome studies that have shed fascinating new light on humanitys ancient past and its echoes in the present.

Present day Lebanese are descendants of Biblical Canaanites

A new genome study of ancient remains from the Near East suggests that present day Lebanese people are direct descendants of the Biblical Canaanites.

The research, which has been published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, sequenced the entire genomes of 4,000 year-old Canaanites who inhabited the region during the Bronze Age, and compared them to other ancient and present day populations.

Despite the Canaanites creating the first alphabet and establishing colonies throughout the Mediterranean, historians and archaeologists only have a limited knowledge of them. They are mentioned several times in the Bible, as well as in ancient Greek and Phoenician texts, but experts know little about their genetic identity, who their ancestors were, and if they have any descendants today.

The study by the researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute determined that more than 90% of present Lebanese ancestry is likely to be from the Canaanites, with a small proportion coming from a different Eurasian population. The researchers estimate that new Eurasian people mixed with the Canaanite population about 2,200 to 3,800 years ago at a time when there were many conquests of the region from outside.

Details about the Canaanites own ancestry have also been revealed. The study claims that they were a mixture of local people who settled in farming villages during the Neolithic period and eastern migrants who arrived in the area around 5,000 years ago.

For the first time we have genetic evidence for substantial continuity in the region, from the Bronze Age Canaanite population through to the present day. Dr Claude Doumet-Serhal, co-author of the study and Director of the Sidon excavation site in Lebanon, said.

These results agree with the continuity seen by archaeologists. Collaborations between archaeologists and geneticists greatly enrich both fields of study and can answer questions about ancestry in ways that experts in neither field can answer alone.

Meanwhile, Dr. Chris Tyler-Smith, lead author from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said: Genetic studies using ancient DNA can expand our understanding of history, and answer questions about the likely origins and descendants of enigmatic populations like the Canaanites, who left few written records themselves.

Now we would like to investigate the earlier and later genetic history of the Near East, and how it relates to the surrounding regions.

Bronze Age Iberia spared the brunt of Steppe invaders

New DNA analysis of people who lived in the Iberian Peninsula during the Bronze Age has revealed that they received only minor genetic input from Steppe invaders, suggesting the Steppe migrations played less of a role in the cultural and genetic makeup of Iberian people than they did in populations elsewhere in Europe.

Between the Middle Neolithic (4200-3500 BCE) and the Middle Bronze Age (1740-1430 BCE), Central, Northwestern and Northern Europe received a massive influx of people from the Steppe regions of Eastern Europe and Asia. Archaeological digs have gained insights into some of the impacts of these influxes on Iberia, in the form of changing cultural practices and funeral rituals, but the genetic effect has remained hitherto unexamined.

The genomes of fourteen people who lived in Portugal in the Neolithic and Bronze Age were sequenced for the study, which has been published in the journal PLOS Genetics. These genomes were then compared with other ancient and modern genetic data, revealing only subtle changes between the Portuguese Neolithic and Bronze Age DNA, suggesting a minor genetic influence from the Steppe. Surprisingly, the changes were significantly more pronounced in paternal lineage.

It was surprising to observe such a striking Y chromosome discontinuity between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age, such as would be consistent with a predominantly male-mediated genetic influx says first author Rui Martiniano. Height was also estimated from the samples, based on relevant DNA sequences, revealing that genetic input from Neolithic migrants decreased the height of Europeans, which subsequently increased steadily through later generations.

By showing that migration into the Iberian Peninsula occurred on a much smaller scale than elsewhere in Europe, the study raises questions about the impact this had on language, culture and technology. For example, the fact that the Basque region of Spain speaks a pre-Indo-European language could be explained by these findings. The discovery also supports a theory which says Indo-European languages spread through Europe from the Steppe heartland.

The study was carried out by Daniel Bradley and Rui Martiniano of Trinity College Dublin, in Ireland, and Ana Maria Silva of University of Coimbra, Portugal.

New project aims to highlight importance of The Indian Army in the First World War

In the UK, The Soldiers of Oxfordshire (SOFO) Museum and Oxford Universitys History Faculty have received a 12,000 grant from the Arts & Humanities Research Council Voices of War & Peace WWI Engagement Centre, for their project titled: The Indian Army in the First World War: An Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Perspective.

The project aims to shed new light on the British Indian Armys role in the war on the Eastern Front in Iraq through an outreach programme and touring exhibition. Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus of all ages in the local community are being called upon to engage with researchers by sharing stories, experiences and memorabilia. The touring exhibition will then showcase the findings in November.

Photographs that have never been displayed before will explore the experiences of British and Indian soldiers in the conflict, as well as the Iraqi prisoners.

Featured image: Archaeological remains of individual MC337 excavated from the site of Hipogeu de Monte Canelas I, Portugal, and analysed by the archaeologist Rui Parreira and the anthropologist Ana Maria Silva. Courtesy of Rui Parreira

History News of the Week: The Biblical Canaanites' Modern Descendants - New Historian

Falling sperm counts are linked to endocrine-disrupting chemicals – MinnPost

A startling new review of sperm production finds that men throughout most of the industrialized world have seen, in aggregate, a 52 percent decline in sperm count over the last generation and a half with exposure to endocrine-disrupting environmental pollution the probable cause.

A sweeping meta-analysis of data from nearly 200 individual studies, the research does not directly attribute the decline to any particular cause, and it notes that many factors are capable of driving down sperm production, especially in the short term.

However, it lists environmental pollution particularly so-called endocrine disruptors, which can act like estrogen in males as the most prominent explanation for this widespread, 38-year-long decline, which one expert is calling a death spiral of infertility in men.

The team, led by Hagai Levine of Hadassah-Hebrew University in Jerusalem, reviewed more than 2,500 articles reporting primary data on sperm counts in men around the world. After excluding research on men selected for study because they were known to have fertility problems, or factors specifically associated with lower sperm production, they assembled for meta-analysis a set of 185 studies of nearly 43,000 men who gave samples between 1973 and 2011.

From these results, they calculate that sperm counts declined by 50 to 60 percent among men in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Men in South America, Africa and Asia did not show comparable declines, but the authors explain that data for these regions was not comparable in quantity or quality, especially before 1985.

In addition to the obvious problem of reduced fertility, their paper notes that lowered sperm counts are associated with a variety of medical conditions, pointing to a likelihood of diminished health and a shorter lifespan.

As for the probable causes of such a steep decline, the authors say

While the current study is not designed to provide direct information on the causes of the observed declines, sperm count has been plausibly associated with multiple environmental and lifestyle inuences, both prenatally and in adult life. In particular, endocrine disruption from chemical exposures or maternal smoking during critical windows of male reproductive development may play a role in prenatal life, while lifestyle changes and exposure to pesticides may play a role in adult life. Thus, a decline in sperm count might be considered as a canary in the coal mine for male health across the lifespan. Our report of a continuing and robust decline should, therefore, trigger research into its causes, aiming for prevention.

The sheer scope of the data gathered for analysis here would seem to address neatly the objections of some skeptics of sperm-count decline including, for one recent example, the cancer epidemiologist Geoffrey Kabat, writing in Forbes a few months ago that sperm-count studies are too small or narrow to reliably factor out the normal variability that occurs from place to place and time to time, in response to all kinds of environmental influences and individual behaviors.

Published on Tuesday in the journal Human Reproduction Update, the study follows by one week another study which apparently and amazingly is the first to test for cumulative endocrine-disruption effects from chemical exposure across successive generations.

The study looked at sperm production and abnormalities of the reproductive tracts in male mice. Its chilling conclusion: The impacts are worse in the second generation than the first, and worse still in the next, with some third-generation mice producing no sperm at all.

Though potentially more significant, in my view, this paper has gotten far less attention than the Levine research; I first saw it referenced in Environmental Health News in a piece by Pete Myers, a Ph.D. biologist who co-wrote the early and influential book on endocrine disruption, Our Stolen Future, published in 1996.

Myers is the founder and chief scientist at EHN, a daily online publication that does original reporting on environmental health science while aggregating, annotating and critiquing reporting done elsewhere. In his view, the two studies taken together mean you should be worried and your kids should be terrified.

The intergenerational study was published last Thursday in the journal PLOS Genetics, and looked at abnormalities in the reproductive tracts of male mice and two generations of their male offspring. It aimed to answer what lead researcher Tegan Horan, a doctoral student at Washington State University told Myers she saw as a simple question with real-world relevance that had simply never been addressed."

Here is Myers terse summary of the research context:

Since World War II, successive generations of people have been exposed to a growing number and quantity of environmental estrogens chemicals that behave like the human hormone estrogen. Thousands of papers published in the scientific literature (reviewed here) tie these to a wide array of adverse consequences, including infertility and sperm count decline.

This phenomenon exposure of multiple generations of mammals to endocrine disrupting compounds had never been studied experimentally, even though that's how humans have experienced EDC exposures for at least the last 70 years. That's almost three generations of human males.

More than a dozen papers have now been published on "trans-generational epigenetic inheritance," where exposure in a great-grandmother causes adverse effects in great-grandson without further exposures and without changes in DNA sequence. But crucially these experiments typically only expose one generation the first rather induce ongoing exposures across generations, which is the reality of human experience.

Reaction to the Levine study has been positive, both on the quality of its findings and their importance, with many in the scientific community endorsing its tentative attribution of the problem to environmental exposure.

Allen Pacey, an andrologist at Britains Sheffield University, told the BBC that "I've never been particularly convinced by the many studies published so far claiming that human sperm counts have declined in the recent past. However, the study today by Dr Levine and his colleagues deals head-on with many of the deficiencies of previous studies."

Frederick vom Saal, Curators Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri, told Myers that "the study is a wakeup that we are in a death spiral of infertility in men."

And Enrique Schisterman of the National Institutes of Health, where he serves as chief of the epidemiology branch at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, told Time magazine that Levines work represented a significant advance and pointed to a serious problem.

I think there is a consensus in the scientific community that if the results are real, it has to be an environmental factor. Genetics would not explain such a rapid decline.

* * *

Both papers can be read and downloaded without charge; the Levine paper on sperm counts is here and the Horan paper on reproductive abnormalities in successive generations is here.

Read more from the original source:
Falling sperm counts are linked to endocrine-disrupting chemicals - MinnPost

Should genetic engineering be used as a tool for conservation? – chinadialogue

Illustration by Luisa Rivere/Yale E360

The worldwide effort to return islands to their original wildlife, by eradicating rats, pigs, and other invasive species, has been one of the great environmental success stories of our time.Rewilding has succeeded on hundreds of islands, with beleaguered species surging back from imminent extinction, and dwindling bird colonies suddenly blossoming across old nesting grounds.

But these restoration campaigns are often massively expensive and emotionally fraught, with conservationists fearful of accidentally poisoning native wildlife, and animal rights activists having at times fiercely opposed the whole idea. So what if it were possible to rid islands of invasive species without killing a single animal? And at a fraction of the cost of current methods?

Thats the tantalising but also worrisome promise of synthetic biology, aBrave New Worldsort of technology that applies engineering principles to species and to biological systems. Its genetic engineering, but made easier and more precise by the new gene editing technology called CRISPR, which ecologists could use to splice in a DNA sequence designed to handicap an invasive species, or to help a native species adapt to a changing climate. Gene drive, another new tool, could then spread an introduced trait through a population far more rapidly than conventional Mendelian genetics would predict.

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Synthetic biology, also called synbio, is already a multi-billion dollar market, for manufacturing processes in pharmaceuticals, chemicals, biofuels, and agriculture. But many conservationists consider the prospect of using synbio methods as a tool for protecting the natural world deeply alarming. Jane Goodall, David Suzuki, and others havesigned a letterwarning that use of gene drives gives technicians the ability to intervene in evolution, to engineer the fate of an entire species, to dramatically modify ecosystems, and to unleash large-scale environmental changes, in ways never thought possible before.The signers of the letter argue that such a powerful and potentially dangerous technology should not be promoted as a conservation tool.

Environmentalists and synthetic biology engineers need to overcome what now amounts to mutual ignorance, a conservationist says.

On the other hand, a team of conservationbiologists writing early this yearin the journalTrends in Ecology and Evolutionran off a list of promising applications for synbio in the natural world, in addition to island rewilding:

Transplanting genes for resistance to white nose syndrome into bats, and for chytrid fungus into frogs and other amphibians.

Giving corals that are vulnerable to bleaching carefully selected genes from nearby corals that are more tolerant of heat and acidity.

Using artificial microbiomes to restore soils damaged by mining or pollution.

Eliminating populations of feral cats and dogs without euthanasia or surgical neutering, by producing generations that are genetically programmed to be sterile, or skewed to be overwhelmingly male.

And eradicating mosquitoes without pesticides, particularly in Hawaii, where they are highly destructive newcomers.

Kent Redford, a conservation consultant and co-author of that article, argues that conservationists and synbio engineers alike need to overcome what now amounts to mutual ignorance. Conservationists tend to have limited and often outdated knowledge of genetics and molecular biology, he says.Ina 2014 articleinOryx, he quoted one conservationist flatly declaring, Those were the courses we flunked. Stanford Universitys Drew Endy, one of the founders of synbio, volunteers in turn that 18 months ago he had never heard of the IUCN the International Union for Conservation of Nature or its Red List of endangered species.In engineering school, the ignorance gap is terrific, he adds.But its symmetric ignorance.

At a major synbio conference he organised last month in Singapore, Endy invited Redford and eight other conservationists to lead a session on biodiversity, with the aim, he says, of getting engineers building the bioeconomy to think about the natural world ahead of time My hope is that people are no longer merely nave in terms of their industrial disposition.

Likewise, Redford and the co-authors of the article inTrends in Ecology and Evolution, assert that it would be a disservice to the goal of protecting biodiversity if conservationists do not participate in applying the best science and thinkers to these issues. They argue that it is necessary to adapt the culture of conservation biologists to a rapidly-changing reality including the effects of climate change and emerging diseases.Twenty-first century conservation philosophy, the co-authors conclude, should embrace concepts of synthetic biology, and both seek and guide appropriate synthetic solutions to aid biodiversity.

Through gene drive technology, mice, rats or other invasive species can theoretically be eliminated from an island without killing anything.

The debate over synthetic biodiversity conservation, as theTrends in Ecology and Evolutionauthors term it, had its origins in a2003 paperby Austin Burt, an evolutionary geneticist at Imperial College London.He proposed a dramatically new tool for genetic engineering, based on certain naturally occurring selfish genetic elements, which manage to propagate themselves in as much as 99 percent of the next generation, rather than the usual 50 percent. Burt thought that it might be possible to use these super-Mendelian genes as a Trojan horse, to rapidly distribute altered DNA, and thus to genetically engineer natural populations. It was impractical at the time.Butdevelopmentof CRISPR technology soon brought the idea close to reality, and researchers have since demonstrated the effectiveness of gene drive, as the technique became known, in laboratory experiments on malaria mosquitoes, fruit flies, yeast, and human embryos.

Burt proposed one particularly ominous-sounding application for this new technology: It might be possible under certain conditions, he thought, that a genetic load sufficient to eradicate a population can be imposed in fewer than 20 generations. And this is, in fact, likely to be the first practical application of synthetic biodiversity conservation in the field. Eradicating invasive populationsis of coursethe inevitable first step in island rewilding projects.

The proposed eradication technique is to use the gene drive to deliver DNA that determines the gender of offspring.Because the gene drive propagates itself so thoroughly through subsequent generations, it can quickly cause a population to become almost all male and soon collapse.The result, at least in theory, is the elimination of mice, rats, or other invasive species from an island without anyone having killed anything.

Research to test the practicality of the method including moral, ethical, and legal considerations is already under way through a research consortium ofnonprofitgroups, universities, and government agencies in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.At North Carolina State University, for instance, researchers have begun working with a laboratory population of invasive mice taken from a coastal island.They need to determine how well a wild population will accept mice that have been altered in the laboratory.

The success of this idea depends heavily,according togene drive researcher Megan Serr, on the genetically modified male mice being studs with the island lady mice Will she want a hybrid male that is part wild, part lab? Beyond that, the research programme needs to figure out how many modified mice to introduce to eradicate an invasive population in a habitat of a particular size. Other significant practical challenges will also undoubtedly arise.For instance,a study early this yearin the journalGeneticsconcluded that resistance to CRISPR-modified gene drives should evolve almost inevitably in most natural populations.

Political and environmental resistance is also likely to develop.In an email, MIT evolutionary biologist Kevin Esvelt asserted that CRISPR-based gene drives are not suited for conservation due to the very high risk of spreading beyond the target species orenvironment. Even a gene drive systemintroduced toquickly eradicate an introduced population from an island, he added, still is likely to have over a year to escape or be deliberately transported off-island. If it is capable of spreading elsewhere, that is a major problem.

Even a highly contained field trial on a remote island is probably a decade or so away, said Heath Packard, of Island Conservation, a nonprofit that has been involved in numerous island rewilding projects and is now part of the research consortium.We are committed to a precautionary step-wise approach, with plenty of off-ramps, if it turns out to be too risky or not ethical.But his group notes that 80% of known extinctions over the past 500 or so years have occurred on islands, whicharealso home to 40% of species now considered at risk of extinction. That makes it important at least to begin to study the potential of synthetic biodiversity conservation.

Even if conservationists ultimately balk at these new technologies, business interests are already bringing synbio into the field for commercial purposes.For instance, a Pennsylvania State University researcher recently figured out how to use CRISPR gene editing to turn off genes that cause supermarket mushrooms to turn brown.The USDepartment of Agriculturelast year ruledthat these mushrooms would not be subject to regulation as a genetically modified organism because they contain no genes introduced from other species.

With those kinds of changes taking place all around them, conservationists absolutely must engage with the synthetic biology community, says Redford, and if we dont do so it will be at our peril. Synbio, he says, presents conservationists with a huge range of questions that no one is paying attention to yet.

This article originally appeared on Yale Environment 360 and is republished here with permission.

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Should genetic engineering be used as a tool for conservation? - chinadialogue

Don’t Blame Your Mom’s Dad for Male Pattern Baldness – Inverse

One day, a guys got a full head of tousleable, luscious hair. The next, that same guy looks into a mirror and sees a reflection of himself with a receding hairline, skin creeping out where hair used to grow wild.

Its male pattern baldness, and while a dude might be tempted to blame his maternal grandfather for the curse of his receding mop, the genetic truth is way murkier.

Balding is actually the result of a very complicated mix of biological and environmental factors. This makes it hard to predict who will go bald, let alone how to turn back the clock on Americas follicles. Thanks to scientific breakthroughs, however, were getting closer than ever to unlocking the mysteries of The Rocks seductive scalp and your own, much less attractive skull.

That hasnt stopped scientists and hardcore hairdressers from capitalizing on hair loss, officially known as alopecia, with the male pattern baldness industry ringing in $3.6 billion dollar industry dedicated to fighting it with wigs, transplants, chemical treatments, and lots and lots of prayer.

An old adage states that you can predict your own fate based on your moms dad and his hair, but new research is showing this to be overly simplistic. Yes, genes related to hair loss are in fact on the X sex chromosome, and therefore passed down to you by your mother but there are a bunch of other factors at play.

In some cases, hair loss can be brought on by stress or poor diet, autoimmune diseases, and pharmaceuticals. But these are all rare. The majority of hair loss is tied to male pattern baldness, a quasi-hereditary trait responsible for the majority of hair loss in men. Part of it is your moms X chromosome, but numerous other genes, hormones, even your immune system functions are involved.

Lets start with testosterone. While everyone has it coursing through their body, men have a lot more testosterone than women. The sex hormone is important for many reasons, including encouraging the development of male genitals, heart health, and the like. But in human hair follicles, testosterone can be all-too-easily transformed into dihydrotestosterone, which shrinks the follicle and stops hair from growing. Thats part of why more more men experience hair loss than women, who have less testosterone at work in their bodies and on their scalps.

Our immune system may also be a key player when it comes to hirsutism. In May, researchers published a report in the journal Cell that showed T cells can change how follicles work for the worse. Apparently, T cells have a tight pact with the stem cells that allow for hair regeneration. When the T cells living in the skin on your head are disrupted, so is hair growth. While the results were most clearly tied to a variety of hair loss known to result from autoimmune disorders, the researchers think T cells could shape male pattern baldness, too.

Still, genetics are probably the single most crucial components of male patterned baldness but no one understands exactly how. One of the most comprehensive studies on this factor, published in Nature Communications in March, looked at data compromising more than 10,000 men with early-onset hair loss and an equal number of controls. They found a whopping 63 different spots scattered throughout human DNA that can contribute to male pattern baldness. Thats a lot of different genes working together far too many to allow for an easy genetic solution to thinning hair.

All of this goes to say: Hair loss is a lot more complicated than whatevers going on with your grandpas noggin. But its also extremely common: In fact, as many at 85 percent of men go on to experience some hair loss over the course of their lives, with increased prevalence among Caucasian men.

It also has to be said that, though people may spend small fortunes trying to combat it for aesthetic purposes, theres nothing wrong with being bald. In fact, some evolutionary biologists theorize that in the distant past, premature baldness made men stand out to potential mates. Baldness is sometimes associated with age and wisdom, so a 20 year old losing his hair may have looked distinguished instead of decrepit. So as these theorists and Tooth Fairys Dwayne The Rock Johnson can attest, there might be something to be said for wholeheartedly embracing that smooth-shaven life.

So skip the Rogaine and stay confident, baldy buddy.

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Don't Blame Your Mom's Dad for Male Pattern Baldness - Inverse

Hair loss in men: THIS shower habit could be why you’re going bald –

The UK has the fifth highest number of bald men in the world.

Indeed, almost 40 per cent of men in this country are losing their hair.

It's often hereditary - male pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia, which is related to genes and male sex hormones, accounts for 95 per cent of hair loss in men.

Other reasons for thinning hair include stress, anaemia, protein deficiency and low vitamin levels.



A recent study published in JAMA Dermatology found that there's no relationship between hair loss and testosterone levels in men.

However, surprisingly, a recent study published in JAMA Dermatology found there's no relationship between hair loss and testosterone levels in men.

If you want to maintain your head of hair for as long as possible, start to pay more attention to your daily grooming habits.

Jumping in and out of the shower as quickly as possible might mean more time in bed, but it could be speeding up you going bald.

That's because taking the time to massage your head as you shampoo stimulates hair growth.

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Ananbel Kingsley, trichologist at Philip Kingsley, said: "Scalp massage can be beneficial for those experiencing a gradual reduction in hair volume or hair loss."

It does this by improving blood flow directly to the area, and by removing dead skin cells which have been proven to cause or worsen hair loss.

She explained: "It should ideally be done for five to ten minutes once to twice a week. It should be gentle yet firm with consistent pressure.

"Using both hands, gently knead your scalp in circular movements starting at the front hairline and gradually working your way back down to the nape of your neck.

"Repeat three to four times, then, with a gentle sweeping action, smooth your hands over the top of your scalp."


Additionally, a study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience found that massaging your scalp also lowers hair loss-inducing stress levels.

However, Anabel added: "Scalp massage alone will not have a vast impact on hair growth. Its benefits are highly dependent on what is used during massage - try a stimulating scalp mask.

"Additionally, one of the most common causes of hair loss is the result of iron and ferritin - stored iron - deficiency.

"A healthy diet, eating adequate iron and proteins and taking care of your general health will help prevent both hair loss and hair thinning and will often improve the general appearance of the hair."

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Hair loss in men: THIS shower habit could be why you're going bald -

Nilgiris pale tiger an ‘aberrant genetic mutation’ – The Hindu

The Hindu
Nilgiris pale tiger an 'aberrant genetic mutation'
The Hindu
While the pale tiger of the Nilgiris has won global attention, it could be just an instance of an aberrant genetic mutation, say experts. This is interesting because no pale tiger has been recorded in south India so far, says Yadvendradev Jhala ...

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Nilgiris pale tiger an 'aberrant genetic mutation' - The Hindu

Evolution and war: The ‘deep roots’ theory of human violence – Genetic Literacy Project

The world learned the details of the Islamic States systemic rape and slavery of women through shocking stories told to the New York Times in 2015.Our collective outrage also showed how war has changed. Rape, torture and slavery are considered beyond taboo; they are criminalized even in war. This archaic behavior is not supposed to happen in our modern world.

But thats a pretty recent development. Systemic rape used to go hand in hand with war as women, resources and landswere assimilated into the victors communities. The victorious menhad more children, more land and more power. Some researchers have argued that this is proof of the deep roots theory of war: Human males fight each other for reproductive advantage, proving that war is an evolutionary advantageous behavior.

But this theory has been hard to prove. In fact, studies of human groups and other primates have added to the evidence both for and against the controversial idea that humans were made for war, evolutionarily speaking. A January 2015study indicates that societies dont actually benefit from head-to-head action, though other forms of violence do pay off.

Harvard evolutionary biologists Luke Glowaki and Richard Wrangham studied the Nyangatom people of East Africa. The group are polygamous shepherds who raise small livestock and can have multiple wives. At times, the Nyangatom go to war with other groups. But there is a another pervasive and nearly constant form of violence in the group. Young riders make raids on nearby camps with the goal of stealing cattle. Glowaki and Wrangham asked if either or both of these types of violence was beneficial to the men who engaged in them. They measured by counting the the number of wives and kids they had.

This study is one of many that has heightened thedebate over how muchwar has had an impact on a warriors evolutionary success. At least in this society,sneaking around after dark and stealing cows may have beenmore consequential. Robert Sapolosky at the Wall Street Journal explained:

By contrast, lots of battle raidingopen-field, daytime combat with hundreds of participantsdid not serve as a predictor of elevated reproductive success, probably because such fighting carried a nontrivial chance of winding up dead. In other words, in this society, being a warrior on steroids did not predict reproductive success; being a low-down sneaky varmint of a cattle rustler did.

But researchers only discovered this by looking at the elders in the community. Stealthy animal raiding did lead to better outcomes but decades later. In Nyangatom culture, most of the stolen livestock goes to fathers and other paternal relatives rather than being kept by the young men who stole them. The male heads of families made marriage decisions for their younger relatives. So, while it this kind of violence makes a difference, the payoff is quite delayed. The researchers speculated the cattle-rustling effect would be stronger in a group where the raiders got to keep the livestock they stole and incentives were strengthened.

Other studies also point to the idea that inter-group warfare might not be beneficial, but intra-group violence is. Chimpanzee tribes, for example dont often go to war with other tribes. Instead the most common types of violence involve a group of males ganging up on one individual male. This often happens when conditions are crowded or there were increased numbers of males in the tribe. And the researchers found that chimps participation in violence happened outside of the spheres of human influence, meaning violence was not a behavior the chimpanzees learned from us.

But other evidence suggests that humans likely didnt participate in war as we know it until relatively recently. A 2013 survey of killings in 21 groups (foragers rather than shepherds) found that group warfare was rare compared to homicide. John Horgan categorized the evidence at Scientific American:

Some other points of interest: 96 percent of the killers were male. No surprise there. But some readers may be surprised that only two out of 148 killings stemmed from a fight over resources, such as a hunting ground, water hole or fruit tree. Nine episodes of lethal aggression involved husbands killing wives; three involved execution of an individual in a group by other members of the group; seven involved execution of outsiders, such as colonizers or missionaries. Most of the killings stemmed from what Fry and Soderberg categorize as miscellaneous personal disputes, involving jealousy, theft, insults and so on. The most common specific cause of deadly violenceinvolving either single or multiple perpetratorswas revenge for a previous attack.So it maybe that a proclivity for violence and an innate sense of revenge that perpetuates war, rather than war itself.

Another factor to consider is that while our common ancestors lived in groups like these thousands of years ago, almost no one does anymore. In fact, finding these undisturbed cultures is hard to do. Having more cows doesnt carry the same appeal it once did. Its unlikely stealing your neighbors TV for your uncle will fetch you a better bride. Some scientists worry that if we accept the idea that violence was a beneficial tool for our ancestors, it somehow overturns the societal progress that has moved us beyond the rape and pillage culture to something still imperfect, but largely more peaceful.

This is the biggest struggle with the deep roots theory of human violence. Just because something garnered an advantage thousands of years ago doesnt make it okay today. Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, who has written a book on human violence, said in the Boston Globe:

romantics worry that if violence is a Darwinian adaptation, that must mean that it is good, or that its futile to work for peace, because humans have an innate thirst for blood that has to be periodically slaked. Needless to say, I think all this is profoundly wrongheaded.

Meredith Knight is a contributor to the human genetics section for Genetic Literacy Project and a freelance science and health writer in Austin, Texas. Follow her @meremereknight.

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Evolution and war: The 'deep roots' theory of human violence - Genetic Literacy Project

Aryan Invasion May Have Transformed India’s Bronze-Age Population – Live Science

An influx of men from the steppe of Central Asia may have swept into India around 3,500 years ago and transformed the population.

The same mysterious people ancient livestock herders called the Yamnaya who rode wheeled chariots and spoke a proto-Indo-European language also moved across Europe more than 1,000 years earlier. Somehow, they left their genetic signature with most European men, but not women, earlier studies suggest.

The new data confirm a long-held but controversial theory that Sanskrit, the ancient language of Northern India, emerged from an earlier language spoken by an influx of people from Central Asia during the Bronze Age. [24 Amazing Archaeological Discoveries]

"People have been debating the arrival of the Indo-European languages in India for hundreds of years," said study co-author Martin Richards, an archaeogeneticist at the University of Huddersfield in England. "There's been a very long-running debate about whether the Indo-European languages were brought from migrations from outside, which is what most linguists would accept, or if they evolved indigenously."

From the earliest days of colonial rule in India, linguists like William Jones and Jakob Grimm (who co-edited "Grimm's Fairy Tales") noticed that Sanskrit shared many similarities with languages as disparate as French, English, Farsi (or Persian) and Russian. Linguists eventually arrived at the conclusion that all these languages derived from a common ancestral language, which they dubbed Indo-European.

But while North Indian languages are predominantly Indo-European, South Indian languages mostly belong to the Dravidian language family. To explain this, scholars proposed the so-called Aryan invasion theory that a group of people from outside India swept in and brought a proto-Sanskrit language to northern India. (The name "Aryans" came from a Sanskrit word for "noble" or "honorable.") In the early 1900s, British archaeologist Mortimer Wheeler proposed that these Aryan people may have conquered, and caused the collapse of, the mysterious Indus Valley Civilization that flourished in what is now India and Pakistan.

The Aryan migration theory eventually became controversial because it was used to justify claims of superiority for different Indian subgroups; was claimed as the basis for the caste system; and in a bastardized form, was incorporated into Nazi ideology that the Aryans were the "master race."

What's more, earlier genetic data did not seem to corroborate the notion of a dramatic Aryan influx into India during the Bronze Age, according to a 2003 study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

But past genetic analyses were based on either DNA from mitochondria, which is passed from mothers to daughters, or from genetic mutations found in nuclear DNA, which are inherited from both parents but can be difficult to date.

In the current study, which was reported in March in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology, Richards and colleagues analyzed modern genetic data from mitochondrial DNA, Y-chromosome DNA which is passed only from father to son and nuclear DNA. By tying all these pieces of data together, the team was able to tie patterns of migration to specific points in time.

The team found evidence that people began colonizing India more than 50,000 years ago and that there were multiple waves of migration into India from the northwest over the last 20,000 years, including waves of people from Anatolia, the Caucasus and Iran between 9,000 and 5,000 years ago.

But evidence for one migration was particularly striking: The genetic makeup of the Y chromosome dramatically shifted about 4,000 to 3,800 years ago, the study found. About 17.5 percent of Indian men carry a Y-chromosome subtype, or haplogroup, known as R1, with the haplogroup more dominant in men in the north compared to the south of India.

This new finding points to an ancient group of people who inhabited the grassland between the Caspian and Black seas from about 5,000 to 2,300 years ago, known broadly as the Yamnaya people. The Yamnaya (and its later subgroup, the Andronovo culture) typically buried their dead in pit graves, drove wheeled horse chariots, herded livestock and spoke an early precursor Indo-European language. About 5,000 years ago, people from this culture almost completely transformed the genetic landscape of Europe, a 2015 Science study suggests.

The genetic signature of the Yamnaya people shows up strongly in the male lineage, but hardly at all in the female lineage, the study found.

One possibility is that a group of horse-riding warriors swept across India, murdered the men and raped or took local women as wives, but not all explanations are that martial, Richards said. For instance, it's possible that whole family units from the Yamnaya migrated to India, but that the men were either able to acquire (or started out with) higher status than local males and thus sired more children with local women, Richards said.

"It's very easy for Y-chromosome composition to change very quickly," Richards told Live Science. "Just because individual men can have a lot more children than women can."

The shift wasn't as dramatic as the genetic transformation of Europe; while up to 90 percent of European men from some countries carry a version of R1, only a minority of men from the Indian subcontinent do, Richards said.

"It's not like a complete wipeout by any means," Richards said.

The study has a limitation: Because the very hot conditions in India don't preserve DNA well, the group lacks ancient DNA to prove that ancient migrants to the region carried the R1 haplogroup, said James Mallory, an archaeologist at Queen's University Belfast in Ireland, who was not involved in the study.

"They're trying to read the history of a people through its modern DNA," Mallory told Live Science. In the past, similarly well-grounded theories have been disproven once people sampled ancient skeletal remains, Mallory added.

The other problem is that there is very little archaeological evidence for a dramatic cultural transformation in India at that time, he added. The Andronovo left behind distinctive artifacts and evidence of their culture in other places, such as their pit burials and unique pottery.

But in India, "We do not really find evidence for these particular cultures," Mallory said.

On the other hand, population studies of the Irish have revealed almost 90 percent of men carry an R1 haplogroup, and yet there's also very little archaeological evidence of a cultural transformation consistent with huge population turnover, he added. So it may simply be that genetics are revealing a lost history of people in the area.

"The genetics are continually giving archaeologists surprises," Mallory said.

Originally published on Live Science.

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Aryan Invasion May Have Transformed India's Bronze-Age Population - Live Science

How Masculinity Can Be Bad For Men’s Health – WUNC

Women live longer than men in many countries around the world. In the United States, women outlive men by an average of five years. Scientists have long attributed this divide to genetics and biology, but a physician at Duke University is posing an alternative theory: toxic masculinity.

Haider Warraich is a clinical researcher and cardiology fellow atDuke University Medical Centerwho authored a new article in The Guardian that explores how male attitudes towards their own health may be at the core of the disparity in life expectancy.

Host Frank Stasio talks with clinical researcher and cardiology fellow Haider Warraich about the disparity in life expectancy for men.

Host Frank Stasio speaks with Warraich about why men in the U.S. tend to wait longer to seek physical and psychological help. They also discuss how the idea of manly behaviors, like drinking and smoking, may lead to lowered health outcomes.


On changes in gender-based life expectancy through history: In the start of the 18th century women and men lived for about the same duration, which was surprisingly just to the mid 20s ... But then as we got better at making sure that childbirth wasn't a death sentence, and women were actually able to give birth and not die off prematurely, we started to see a gap emerge. We started to see women consistently, across societies, lived longer than men.

On the persistent gap in male to female life expectancy: That gap in the United States is about five years. In other countries such as Russia it's about 10 years. This is certainly something we have not seen for the expanse of human civilization but certainly something that we now see consistently across most developed societies.

On biological theories that seek to explain why women live longer: The female sex hormone estrogen conveys some protection as far as reducing the risk of heart disease ... Some have postulated that the fact that women have a faster heart rate in general in some ways or somehow simulates the effect of exercise which is why they're able to live longer. And others have said The female birth rate is higher. We have more female children than we have male children, which in some ways suggests that even from an almost embryonic stage women have some type of advantage over men. Those are some of the biological theories that have been postulated.

Why biological theories don't paint a full picture of the life expectancy gap: What we're seeing more and more is that it is male behaviors that are likely driving men dying off earlier than women ... Some of these behaviors just have to do with the fact that men are more likely to take risks than women. Some of that has to do with the fact that the male hormone testosterone drives risk-taking behavior. But a lot of it is a construct of society. Men have a higher rate of smoking pretty much across the world. Men drink more. Men have more road traffic accidents, gunshot wounds et cetera. All of these are things that are driven by male behaviors. Men are less likely to seek the help of a physician if they fall sick. Men who have some type of psychiatric issues such as depression or anxiety, or other things, are less likely to go see a psychiatrist.

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How Masculinity Can Be Bad For Men's Health - WUNC

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The problematics of genetics and the Aryan issue – The Hindu

The Hindu
The problematics of genetics and the Aryan issue
The Hindu
Finally, the study opines that genetic influx from Central Asia in the Bronze Age was strongly male-driven, consistent with the patriarchal, patrilocal and patrilineal social structure attributed to the inferred pastoralist early Indo-European society ...

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The problematics of genetics and the Aryan issue - The Hindu

Scientists arming new weapon against dengue, malaria mosquitoes – The Indian Express

Written by Kavitha Iyer | Jalna | Updated: July 3, 2017 9:17 am GBIT got around 12,000 male OX513A mosquitoes in 2011, several generations have evolved in its Jalna lab.

EVEN as urban local bodies gear up for annual monsoon outbreaks of dengue and malaria, inside a nondescript mesh cage at Jalna in central Maharashtra, trials are underway on several generations of a friendly mosquito that a handful of countries are already experimenting with for vector control programmes.

In the cage are hundreds of Aedes Aegypti vector mosquitoes, responsible for spreading dengue and chikungunya among other diseases, but engineered through advanced biotechnology to be self-limiting in other words, genetically modified to cause offspring to die.

While GM Mustard continues to await a final nod from the Union government, Gangabishan Bhikulal Investment and Trading Limited (GBIT), which is testing the transgenic mosquitoes along with Oxitec Limited, an Oxford University spin-out biotech company, is pinning its hopes on the urgency around finding effective vector management technologies.

The Aedes Aegypti mosquito, the vector responsible for dengue and chikungunya outbreaks, has survived traditional fumigating and there is no immediate mass-scale programme to control these outbreaks. From a public health perspective, this is a crucial area where intervention can be made, says Shirish Barwale, director of GBIT, one of the Barwale Group companies that include hybrid seed major Mahyco.

Already, Oxitec is partnering with agencies in Brazil, Panama, the US and the Cayman Islands for trials and pilot projects. In India, GBIT expects to approach regulators seeking permissions for the next phase limited trials in an open field early next year. Phase One of the trials was in the laboratory, and Phase Two, a contained trial in cages, is currently underway. Once the results of this phase are ready, then we expect to go into Phase Three, which would be open field trials, said Dr Shaibal Dasgupta, GBITs lead scientist on the project. By February or March 2018, we will be more or less ready and will submit results.

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director Dr Soumya Swaminathan agrees that there is a need for a graded response to trials around GM technology meant for disease control. We definitely need to look for alternative technologies for the future, she said.

The friendly Aedes has already been trademarked by Oxitec. These are transgenic male mosquitoes with a self-limiting gene inserted through advanced genetics. Banking upon the males natural instinct to mate with a wild female, the OX513A strain is inherited by offspring, causing the larvae to die before maturing into adult mosquitoes.

What we do is a regular quality check on the effectivity of the gene. We mate the OX513A male mosquito with the local female and check the mortality. That is the test of effectivity of the gene, says Dr Dasgupta. GBIT says their quality checks have shown no deviation from the expected performance of the gene in subsequent generations of the mosquito. At Oxitec, over 150 generations of the mosquito have been tested by now, only batches getting tetracycline surviving into adulthood. Again, no deviation has been found in gene penetrance.

Asked whether the local agricultural community around the Jalna facility is aware of the active test site, GBIT says they have a detailed engagement plan to set into motion before open trials. We would need to involve the local community for the next round of open trials, as and when we get approvals. At present, discussion with the village close to the site is on and is at the initial stages, said an official of GBIT.

Among the things they expect to tell villagers is that only male mosquitoes are to be released the male Aedes Aegypti neither bites humans nor spreads disease. Also, the OX513A gene being self limiting, it does not remain in the environment unless it gets tetracycline. Scientists also say no toxins are introduced in the bio-engineered OX513A mosquitoes, so birds eating these mosquitoes will not be in any danger. Also, as the Aedes Aegypti only mates with its own kind, DNA sequences will not be spread to any other organism.

But one problem, is the absence of convincing data from previous trials on the impact of a reduced vector population on incidence of disease. Other doubts include the possibility that the wild female will, over generations, prefer only the wild male Aedes Aegypti.

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Scientists arming new weapon against dengue, malaria mosquitoes - The Indian Express