Podcast: Females have a biological advantage over males

x chromosome x
Credit: Westend61/Getty Images

[F]emales have two X chromosomes whereas males have one, and females compensate by ‘switching off’ one of them while still an embryo. But for each cell, the X that gets switched off is random – so an adult female is a melting pot for two different families of cells. This is the subject of a recent book by geneticist Sharon Moalem, called ‘The Better Half: On the Genetic Superiority of Women’. He explained to Phil Sansom that not only does this mosaicism help females in loads of ways, but that it’s more complicated: some of the genes from the ‘switched off’ X chromosome somehow survive the switching off… and go on to help out even further.

Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.

[Moalem:] What we’re discovering right now is not only that females are made up of two populations of cells that are cooperating, but actually within the individual cells, females have access to about 25% of the so-called silenced X. So what that actually means is another 250 genes. It’s much more genetic horsepower, so to speak, in every female cell compared to male cells. And many of those genes are involved in the prevention of cancer, in immunological function, in the building and maintaining of a human brain. So although having an extra 1000 genes overall to use might not sound that significant, because we have about 20,000 genes, these genes are crucial.

Read the original post

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
ft covidresponseus feature

Video: Viewpoint: The US wrote the global playbook on the coronavirus and then ignored it

A year ago, the United States was regarded as the country best prepared for a pandemic. Our government had spent ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend