Home / Science / The secret to a long life? Matching sex chromosomes | Science

The secret to a long life? Matching sex chromosomes | Science

The secret to a long life? Matching sex chromosomes | Science

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Sex chromosomes affect bodily variations between female and male animals, corresponding to feather patterns in mandarin geese.

Chris Schenk/Minden Pictures

When 109-year-old Jessie Gallan was requested concerning the secret to her long life, she replied “staying away from men.” Other individuals older than 100 have extolled the virtues of every thing from crossword puzzles to faucet dancing. One factor they don’t normally point out: chromosomes. Yet, throughout the animal kingdom, people with equivalent sex chromosomes—together with girls with double Xs—stay almost 18% longer than their counterparts with mismatched chromosomes, a new examine reveals.

In most animals, sex chromosomes assist decide whether or not a person develops as a male or feminine. In mammals, females usually have two equivalent X chromosomes, whereas males have one X and one a lot smaller, or “reduced,” Y chromosome. Sexes of some animals, corresponding to most male arachnids, lack a second sex chromosome solely. These chromosomes contribute to the bodily variations between women and men. Birds with ZZ sex chromosomes, for instance, are male and have a tendency to be extra colourful, whereas ZWs are females with usually blander plumage.

Physical traits aren’t the one variations between the sexes. Researchers hypothesize that animals with mismatched sex chromosomes, corresponding to XY male mammals, may very well be extra weak to genetic mutations, which might end in a shorter life span. But till now, scientists haven’t studied this impact throughout the animal kingdom.

So researchers on the University of New South Wales, Sydney, scoured scientific papers, books, and on-line databases for sex chromosome and longevity knowledge. They in contrast the life spans of women and men of 229 animal species throughout 99 households, 38 orders, and eight lessons. On common, the sex with equivalent chromosomes lives 17.6% longer, they report at present in Biology Letters. The longevity sample holds for people, wild animals, and captive animals throughout the evolutionary household tree.

“I thought it was really cool how, across insects and fish, we’re all showing the same sort of response,” says the examine’s lead writer, ecologist Zoe Xirocostas.

Still, the researchers discovered that the life span disparity varies markedly between species. At one excessive, feminine German cockroaches (Blattella germanica), with XX sex chromosomes, stay 77% longer than single-X males. The disparity additionally varies relying on whether or not the animal with matching sex chromosomes is feminine or male. Females with equivalent sex chromosomes—corresponding to mammals and a few reptiles, bugs, and fish—stay a mean of 20.9% longer than males, however in males with matching sex chromosomes, corresponding to birds and butterflies, the life span acquire over females is simply 7.1%.

This unevenness hints that components aside from the presence of sure sex chromosomes may additionally strongly affect longevity, the workforce says. One of those components may very well be sexual choice. Exaggerated bodily traits and elaborate behaviors make males of some species extra engaging to females however require giant quantities of vitality and take a toll on general well being.

“We know that sexual selection is stronger in males,” says evolutionary biologist Gabriel Marais from Claude Bernard University Lyon, who was not concerned within the analysis. Males “pay the cost of this sexual selection by faster aging, and they will die younger,” Marais says.

If these males even have decreased or absent sex chromosomes that go away them weak to mutations, the deleterious results on life span add up, Marais says. In comparability, feminine birds and butterflies with mismatched sex chromosomes may be extra weak to mutations, however they don’t face the life span discount of intense sexual choice.

Further work might assist researchers perceive how sex chromosomes influence life span. For instance, researchers don’t but know whether or not the dimensions of the decreased sex chromosome corresponds to the distinction in life span between women and men. “There are so few papers about this question,” Marais says. He praises the brand new examine as an necessary step in the fitting path.

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