Y chromosome may be disappearing in humans, new study finds

Jerusalem Post

While most mammals have an X and Y chromosome-based system similar to that of humans, many species have seen a gradual decline in Y chromosomes.

Human sex has long been decided by the X and Y chromosomes – females are born with two X chromosomes, whereas males are born with one X and one Y chromosome. That future might be at risk as Y chromosomes continue to gradually disappear across different mammal species, a new study found. The study, which was published in the peer-reviewed multidisciplinary scientific journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), analyzed the platypus – a mammal that has different sex chromosomes, whereas most mammals have an X and Y chromosome-based system similar to that of humans. The Australian Platypus, however, has XY chromosome pairs that would normally dictate that the mammal was a male – suggesting that the XY pairing was typical of mammal species not long ago. Researchers estimated that the Y chromosome has lost over 900 active genes over 166 million years – the time period that human beings and the Australian Platypus have been evolving separately. At this rate, genes linked to Y chromosomes will be extinct in 11 million years.

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