The super selfish genes that don’t want the best for us

Mutations, sterility and sometimes the extinction of an entire species: Organisms contain so many selfish genes that they do not have the best intentions of their host.

Researchers at the University of Rochester have now studied one of those disruptive genetic elements called SD in a population of fruit flies. They saw that SD tampered with the fair transmission of genes to the next generation.

Females pass SD chromosomes, according to the rules of biology, to 50 percent of their offspring, but males pass on all of their offspring. This is because SD kills all sperm that do not contain this component. This works because SD has become a super gene: a group of genes on the same chromosome is passed on as a whole.

In formative offspring, SD alone cannot recombine properly, which is something that occurs with other chromosomes. This causes nasty host mutations and problems, but may also eventually cause the SD to wipe out itself. Until then, it is a good thing that we now know better how this egoist works, if we are to intervene.

Read more here: ‘Super gene’ wreaks havoc on the genome.

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