Leave not the faithful side
That gave thee being
Still shades thee and protects
-John Milton, Book 9 of Paradise Lost
The one who proclaimed to be the creator of the fairer is on verge of his own death. Jennifer Graves in 11th International congress of Genetics prophesied the extinction of MAN. In her lecture, entitled ‘The Decline and Fall of the Y Chromosome and the Future of Men,’ Prof Graves discussed the disappearance of the Y chromosome and the implications for humans. The Y chromosomes or the sex determining chromosome will die out in 5 million year and thus there will be no Man left on earth, just the Woman around to rule it. The woman possesses the X chromosome while the male sperms are either X or Y. A foetus in womb is male when XY form a union, other wise it XX, which is female. Professor Graves also said that due to evolution, a second species of human beings can develop in near future. The dying of Y chromosomes may mean death of male species but it can adapt and can still live on without the vital sex determining chromosome.
How did this happen? Well, 100 million years ago Y chromosomes were a healthy part of human genome. Then mammals were small, insignificant part of the system and trying there best to survive Dinosaurs. During this type a mutation happened and Y changed its role to a sex determining factor. Thus it switched its path to male development. The male Y chromosome has a gene SRY which switches on the development of testis and pumps out male hormones that determine maleness. Prof. Graves said that “300 million years ago Y chromosome had about 1,400 genes on it, and now it has 45. At this rate we are going to run out of Y chromosome in about 5 million years.” The Y chromosome due to mutation harmed itself and could not heal itself, unlike X. X chromosome can pair- up and swap genes to minimise bad mutation. Whereas Y chromosome has no partner which can alter the effect of mutation and damage kept accumulating in the process.
What happens next? According to Prof. Graves, it is not known what can happen but there are many speculations about it. “Humans can’t become parthenogenetic [asexually reproductive], like some lizards, because several vital genes must come from the male. But the good news is that certain rodent species – the mole voles of Eastern Europe and the country rats of Japan – have no Y chromosome and no SRY gene. Yet there are still plenty of healthy male mole voles and country rats running around. Some other gene must have taken over the job and we’d like to know what that gene is,” she said. So there is still some hope left for MAN.
According to many reports male infertility has increased, 7% of men are either infertile or sub fertile. This is caused by many substantial reasons and one of them is mutation of Y chromosome, roughly 2% of infertile population. What are the different alternative to this process? One would be to find a different alternative chromosome to take place of Y chromosome, as found in XX male, which is 1 in 1, 50,000 male population. Either they can father the new species according to Prof Graves or a new kind of individual by other scientist. Second solution would be to do away with the natural way of breeding and go for artificial insemination, which is done all over the world by many couples or in case of a test tube baby, which is known as ICSI, stands for Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. Lastly, we can look forward to cloning. But in the last two processes, morals and laws of nature stand in the way. So, the only viable solution is to find alternate genes and stop the extinction.
Mother Nature has selected the Female to carry on the life of the species, either we can change our mutation naturally as many other species did on the brink of death, or try our hand at other scientific process and keep the clock ticking. We have to race against time before the male in our species dies like it happened to other extinct species. To the rejoice of staunch feminists, the patriarchy, so in literary sense, is going to end in near future. Adam is cursed and Eve has to move along the process of being and carry the species to its future. Rather, the fairer is on the helm of the civilization, having won the battle of sex on natural selection. But we cannot deny the fact that the male is as much needed as the female for the progress of life, however the case is built!
[Image courtesy: http://www.impactlab.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/men.jpg]