The male Y chromosome is said to be degenerating and shriveling at a rapid rate, according to recent research. The rumored eventual disappearance of the male sex chromosome, Y, is leaving the scientific community wondering what will happen to men. A time frame has also been estimated as to when the Y chromosome is expected to disappear “completely,” and IFLScience says it’s not a “long time.”
In just over a week, new articles have emerged that argue whether the Y chromosome is capable of protecting itself from further degeneration. Some scientific groups believe that the chromosome responsible for determining the sex of an offspring is ultimately doomed to be “lost from the genome,” as noted by Smithsonian Mag. Other groups reportedly argue that the Y chromosome will defend and rescue itself.
As comments say that maybe it’s time to “clone men fast,” debate continues about whether human production in its current form will eventually just stop “naturally.” An article published in IFLScience claims that the “masculine” Y chromosome has less than 5 million years left before extinction. The article goes on to say that, although that time frame seems like a “long time,” it’s really not.
An article on the Conversation reportedly started the conversation about the possibility of an eventual disappearance of men and the Y chromosome. The academic and research site states that the Y chromosome isn’t necessarily needed for life, and its degeneration is said to be leaving men today with a shriveled up Y chromosome. The Y chromosome is also unique in that they are “only ever present” in cells as one copy, not two, and are only passed on to sons from their fathers.
Women, of course, only have two X chromosomes, that are said to still be “perfectly normal.” However, it’s up to men’s chromosomes to determine whether offspring will be male or female, and the Daily Mail shares that men only carry the Y chromosome in up to half of their sperm. The Daily Mail also cites the University of Kent, located in the United Kingdom, as having discovered that the Y chromosomes that men carry today are shrinking.
Men reportedly still have a perfect X chromosome to go with their low-quality Y chromosome, but according to reports, the Y chromosome “hasn’t always been like this.” Due to the fact that the Y chromosome can’t undergo the usual recombination of genes to keep it healthy, the “Y chromosomal genes” suffer “damaging” mutations that eventually lead to their demise.
However, supporters of the argument that the Y chromosome will find a way to survive, the “remainers” group, say that it will save itself from extinction through gene amplification, which is when “copies of a gene” increase in number — common in cancer cells, according to the National Cancer Institute. Studies reportedly show that gene amplification in Y chromosome genes is actually supposed to promote healthy sperm and lessen the severity of the loss of genes with the Y chromosome.
Studies also reportedly suggest that damaged genes with the Y chromosome have a “defense mechanism” with the ability to “repair” themselves and that men are probably not exactly on “their way out,” as noted by Newsweek. However, Smithsonian Mag says that a group called “leavers” suggest that, possibly due to future genetic engineering, the function of the rapidly degenerating Y chromosome gene could eventually be replaced, theoretically, allowing same-sex couples to conceive.