At the Human Genome science meeting in Hyderabad, the presentation made by a US-based biologist on 28th September’08, showed that even if the male Y-chromosome loses its genes at the current rate, the males would still survive at least another 300 million years.
It is well known that the mammalian males (human included) have XY chromosome combination in males and XX combination in females. Therefore without Y chromosome, the mammalian embryos will be, by default, females only.
According to scientific studies, a pair of identical chromosomes bifurcated into X and Y sex chromosomes some 300 to 150 million years back. In mammals, Y-chromosome is a marvel piece of genetic architecture. Several studies have shown however that Y-chromosome has lost most of its building blocks, the genes, over the last 150 million years and the present day functional gene count is between 30 and 50 only, compared to more than 1000 genes at that time.
Some of the geneticist likes Jennifer Graves at the Australian National University have been saying that the progressive degeneration of the Y-chromosome may result in its disappearance in about 5 million years hence. She too however believes that even if the present gene loss on Y may not be the end of males, as new sex-genes and chromosomes will again evolve leading to, perhaps, a new hominid species.
The Hyderabad presentation however contradicts this school of thought. As per presentation of Doris Bachtrog, a gene-scientist from University of California, San Diego, males are not any case going to extinct because of gene loss. Her research suggested that most of the gene loss on Y occurred within the first 50 million years of its evolution and that at the current slowed down rate of gene loss, the Y- chromosome would still be left with 20 genes even after 300 years.
K.Thangaraj, a scientist at the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad, who chaired the presentation session said, “ I don’t think that the controversy over the fate of Y- chromosome is going to end anyway.”
Your writer had studied biology at pre-University level and firmly believes that even if Y-chromosome departs, this world would not be devoid of human and human race, in that, the Gentle Ladies would procreate their own clones asexually, by their own body cells. And with all the (stupid) males gone, the world will be much fairer or habitable a place than now!