Feeds

Scientists solve reproductive riddle

Sperm or eggs?

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
'Yes, yes... YES!' Philae lands on COMET 67P
Plucky probot aces landing on high-speed space rock - emotional scenes in Darmstadt
THERE it is! Philae comet lander FOUND in EXISTING Rosetta PICS
Crumb? Pixel? ALIEN? Better, it's a comet-catcher!
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.
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.