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Group of Scientists Believe They Have Unlocked Hereditary Question of Why People are Gay

A group of scientists from the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis say they believe they have the answer to why people are gay, and believe it is an "epigenetic" one linking fathers to lesbian daughters and mothers to gay sons. And they say they can prove whether their theory is right within six months, US News reports:

GenomeLong thought to have some sort of hereditary link, a group of scientists suggested Tuesday that homosexuality is linked to epi-marks — extra layers of information that control how certain genes are expressed. These epi-marks are usually, but not always, "erased" between generations. In homosexuals, these epi-marks aren't erased — they're passed from father-to-daughter or mother-to-son, explains William Rice, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California Santa Barbara and lead author of the study.

More:

Rice and his team created a mathematical model that explains why homosexuality is passed through epi-marks, not genetics. Evolutionarily speaking, if homosexuality was solely a genetic trait, scientists would expect the trait to eventually disappear because homosexuals wouldn't be expected to reproduce. But because these epi-marks provide an evolutionary advantage for the parents of homosexuals: They protect fathers of homosexuals from underexposure to testosterone and mothers of homosexuals from overexposure to testosterone while they are in gestation.

"These epi-marks protect fathers and mothers from excess or underexposure to testosterone — when they carry over to opposite-sex offspring, it can cause the masculinization of females or the feminization of males," Rice says, which can lead to a child becoming gay. Rice notes that these markers are "highly variable" and that only strong epi-marks will result in a homosexual offspring.

Adds Rice: "We've found a story that looks really good. There's more verification needed, but we point out how we can easily do epigenetic profiles genome-wide. We predict where the epi-marks occur, we just need other studies to look at it empirically. This can be tested and proven within six months. It's easy to test. If it's a bad idea, we can throw it away in short order."

More here.

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Comments

  1. so have they found the cure for cancer yet???

    Posted by: kristian | Dec 11, 2012 2:42:09 PM


  2. Man, that headline makes them sound like idiots. Don't put words in their mouths. The epigenic research going on is amazing, just wait.

    Posted by: Fenrox | Dec 11, 2012 2:43:30 PM


  3. and here my parents just though they were lucky!

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Dec 11, 2012 2:45:22 PM


  4. So I am, therefore I am. Okay.

    Posted by: John Simpson | Dec 11, 2012 2:48:38 PM


  5. This is a really cool question, but the scientists aren't dumb enough to believe they've "unlocked" anything just yet. They've come up with a neat question to ask, and now they have to do the actual work to find out what the answer is.

    Posted by: JD | Dec 11, 2012 2:51:16 PM


  6. They had ,e until "... it can cause the masculinization of females or the feminization of males."

    Something falls apart right there.

    Posted by: invito | Dec 11, 2012 2:51:23 PM


  7. I'd really rather just leave the science behind this question alone. Things exist because their meant to. Yeesh...

    Posted by: Cecilfirefox | Dec 11, 2012 2:53:04 PM


  8. This is scary.

    Posted by: calvin | Dec 11, 2012 3:00:17 PM


  9. Interesting theory. How then do they explain why same sex twins, fraternal in some cases, identical in others, are opposite sexual orientations even while raised in the same household by the same parents?

    Posted by: Tony C. | Dec 11, 2012 3:04:54 PM


  10. Although it's an exciting prospect to think that there could be scientific data that will make a strong case to show that being gay is a natural occurance. I am secretly praying that there isn't a gay "gene".

    Just think, if it turns out to be the case - super conservatives will label being gay as a "genetic disorder"! They will find ways of isolating this "gene" and eliminating it in young children or even unborn babys, effectively "curing" the child of potential homosexuality...my thinking is that it all leads to a very scary place.

    Posted by: Joshyboy | Dec 11, 2012 3:06:01 PM


  11. Although it's an exciting prospect to think that there could be scientific data that will make a strong case to show that being gay is a natural occurance. I am secretly praying that there isn't a gay "gene".

    Just think, if it turns out to be the case - super conservatives will label being gay as a "genetic disorder"! They will find ways of isolating this "gene" and eliminating it in young children or even unborn babys, effectively "curing" the child of potential homosexuality...my thinking is that it all leads to a very scary place.

    Posted by: Joshyboy | Dec 11, 2012 3:06:02 PM


  12. I don't think "the masculinization of females or the feminization of males" is what causes a child to be gay. That's what causes a feminine male or a masculine female, period. There are plenty of inherently masculine (vs trumped up, faux butch masculine) gay males and feminine lesbians.

    On an anecdotal note, my father had a gay brother, I am gay, and my half brother, his son, is gay. My mother has no gay siblings of any kind. So if there's something hereditary going on in my family, it seems to be coming from my dad's side of the family.

    Posted by: rustytrawler | Dec 11, 2012 3:07:04 PM


  13. "Evolutionarily speaking, if homosexuality was solely a genetic trait, scientists would expect the trait to eventually disappear because homosexuals wouldn't be expected to reproduce."

    I'm not even remotely surprised that epigenetics is the future of gay science, but seriously?! The past isn't a very reliable guage of the existance of the gay gene (should it exist at all); plenty of our gay ancestors reproduced (with women), or helped to raise family (who-- usually-- share a good chunk of their own genetic code). Only creationists believe that vaginal sex (in marriage) is tantamount to, and singularly responsible fo, recreating G-d's favorite species.

    Also, I'm betting Rick isn't going to be pleased with the whole gays-as-feminized-males bit.

    Posted by: Steven H | Dec 11, 2012 3:07:29 PM


  14. @Calvin, I am pretty sure that if someone wanted to eugenic-out gays they could do it with today's technology. Don't be so afraid! Anyone can always hit you with a bus!

    Posted by: Fenrox | Dec 11, 2012 3:07:32 PM


  15. Actually, from a little more reading I THINK this is really just a group of folks with a theory, and a mathematical formula, but no actual biological testing at all- it may well be nonsense.

    Posted by: Cecilfirefox | Dec 11, 2012 3:09:56 PM


  16. i'm not convinced that "proof of biological/genetic" whatever will do any good.


    guys, we still have evolution-denying Creationists.

    people will simply choose to ignore any and all facts that run contrary to their chosen "opinions" and beliefs.

    see also: Obama's birth certificate. dinosaurs. and way too many other things.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Dec 11, 2012 3:12:04 PM


  17. Here's to bad ideas being thrown away.

    Posted by: Glenn I | Dec 11, 2012 3:14:26 PM


  18. All, What missing from this study is the definitions (i work in the epigenetic field) What epigenetics is, is the study of how external factors affect gene expression (or depression). Essentially turning genes on or off. These can be from any external events, such as diet, exercise, stress, toxins, etc. What epi-marks are (in theory) are inherited traits passed along generations but not specifically in their DNA. For example, 2 identical twins, one is 6'1 and one is 5'8; they have the same DNA but something caused them to be different heights...The good news in a biologic model and not a mathematical one..is that yes we are born this way (just nature and nurture; not one or the other)

    Posted by: dan | Dec 11, 2012 3:21:13 PM


  19. I hope there are LGBT scientists involved with the study. Heterosexual "experts" are often prone to bizarre projections about who and what we are. Masculine females are not necessarily lesbian, feminine males are not necessarily gay. "Gay" does not always equal anal sex, etc.

    Posted by: dh | Dec 11, 2012 3:21:34 PM


  20. Where do bisexuals come from?

    Posted by: Kevin | Dec 11, 2012 3:22:37 PM


  21. this is a bad idea

    Posted by: Jameziciarius | Dec 11, 2012 3:23:49 PM


  22. "These epi-marks protect fathers and mothers from excess or underexposure to testosterone — when they carry over to opposite-sex offspring, it can cause the masculinization of females or the feminization of males,"

    Oh my. You lost me right there. a good indication that you don't know how to ask the question, which means you don't know how to understand the answer.

    And of course, bisexuals, which according to freud, everyone actually is until they get oscialized into heterosexuality.

    You folks may be on to something, but i don't think you know enough yet to say what it is.

    Posted by: Ben in Oakland | Dec 11, 2012 3:26:40 PM


  23. Steven H is correct that historically gay people were expected to reproduce and did. There weren't a whole lot of options to fit into cultural norms.

    But even if you assume that gay people didn't reproduce there there's a still an evolutionary model for why homosexuality wouldn't be selected out of the gene pool. Instead of focusing on the individual, look to the extended family, which was the common unit for millenia.

    Homosexual children would benefit the FAMILY by adding more hands to the task of feeding and defending the group, but by not reproducing they didn't add extra mouths to feed. Thus, the FAMILY'S genes had a better chance of survival/propagation and those genes included the possibility of homosexual children.

    We already know there is no one "gay gene." However, in families where 2 or more male children are gay they often DO share a certain genetic marker. What it comes down to is there isn't ONE "cause" for people to be gay. This is an interesting theory but so far that's all it is- we'll have to see how it pans out.

    Posted by: Caliban | Dec 11, 2012 3:31:56 PM


  24. Is it me, or do these scientists conflate gender identity with sexual orientation?

    Posted by: Peter | Dec 11, 2012 3:34:15 PM


  25. " because homosexuals wouldn't be expected to reproduce..." Right. Because throughout history, there have NEVER been closeted gay men getting married and having children.

    If he bases his theory on this premise, then the whole thing falls apart.

    Posted by: TC | Dec 11, 2012 3:34:44 PM


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