Page’s Y chromosome findings featured in NYTimes, BusinessWeek

Whitehead Institute Director David Page’s recent paper on Y chromosome evolution has been making headlines all week. And rightfully so—Page’s findings overturn the widely held theory that the Y chromosome, and the male sex, is bound for extinction.

Here are just a few:

Genetic Maker of Men Is Diminished but Holding Its Ground, Researchers Say
The New York Times
By Nicholas Wade, February 22, 2012

Men, or at least male biologists, have long been alarmed that their tiny Y chromosome, once the same size as its buxom partner, the X, will continue to wither away until it simply vanishes. The male sex would then become extinct, they fear, leaving women to invent some virgin-birth method of reproduction and propagate a sexless species.

The fear is not without serious basis: The Y and X chromosomes once shared some 800 genes in common, but now, after shedding genes furiously, the Y carries just 19 of its ancestral genes, as well as the male-determining gene that is its raison d’être. So much DNA has been lost that the chromosome is a fraction of its original size.

Men Aren’t Going Extinct, Study of Shrinking Y Chromosome Finds
Bloomberg BusinessWeek
By Ryan Flinn, February 23, 2012

Men aren’t going extinct, scientists assured the world yesterday.

The Y chromosome, the strand of DNA that determines male sex, contained about 800 genes some 200 million years ago. Now, though, it has only 30, leading some scientists to conclude it could disappear altogether, bringing about the end of men.

The human Y chromosome is here to stay
Nature
By Ewen Callaway, February 22, 2012

Men can breathe a sigh of relief — their sex-determining chromosomes aren’t going anywhere. A study of human and rhesus monkey Y chromosomes questions the notion that the Y is steadily shedding genes and is doomed to degenerate.

Male pride restored as Y chromosome wins a reprieve
The Guardian
By Ian Sample, February 22, 2012

Nature deals some unkind blows, but none is more hurtful to the pride of man than the looming demise of the Y chromosome.

When it comes to sex chromosomes, women are XX and men are XY. But the modern male chromosome is not what it used to be. Over millions of years of evolution, the biological keeper of all things male has withered and shrunk. So dramatic has the decline been, that one day the Y might vanish completely.

View Whitehead’s Press release
More information on David Page