Feeds

Scientists solve reproductive riddle

Sperm or eggs?

Business security measures using SSL

For the first time, a research paper describes how the switch between producing a woman's single batch of eggs or a man's lifetime of sperm is flicked.

The discovery, due to be published in the journal Science, could have important applications in fertility treatment.

It makes an interesting aside to a California biotech firm's announcement of a method to produce stem cells from testes.

For women, the meiosis process, which both sexes must carry out to halve their DNA so that a full complement can be regained at fertilisation, all goes on before they're born. Testes don't start producing sperm until years after birth, but go on making fresh ones throughout life.

A team at the University of Queensland has solved the fundamental riddle of how developing foetuses decide which fork in the road to take.

Professor Peter Koopman's group found that a vitamin A derivative triggers the start of meiosis. But in males an enzyme mops up the compound before it can act, suppressing meiosis until after birth.

Professor Koopman said: "It is textbook science and it should provide the basis for a number of practical applications."

As well as the obvious fertility angle, the knowledge could be used to interfere with pest reproduction, or add to the options available to cancer researchers working to beat germ cell tumours, such as testicular cancer. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.