Sperm in All Animals Originated 600 Million Years Ago - Yahoo! News

A gene responsible for sperm production is so vital that its
function has remained unaltered throughout evolution and is found in almost all
animals, according to a new study. The results suggest the ability to produce
sperm originated 600 million years ago.

The gene, called Boule, appears to be the only gene known to
be exclusively required for

"Our findings also show that humans, despite how
complex we are, across the evolutionary lines all the way to flies, which are
very simple, still have one fundamental element that's shared," said
Eugene Xu, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern
University Feinberg School of Medicine.

The discovery of Boule's key role in perpetuating animal
species offers a better understanding of
contraceptive drug, and a new direction for future development of
pesticides or medicine to fight infectious parasites.

The study will be published July 15 in the journal PLoS

Sperm search

Prior to the new findings, scientists didn't know whether
sperm produced by various animal species came from the same prototype. In many
evolution scenarios, things develop independently. As an example, birds and
insects both fly, but the wings of each originated and evolved completely

For the study, Xu searched for and discovered the presence
of the Boule gene in sperm across different evolutionary lines: human, mammal,
fish, insect, worm and marine invertebrate. The search required sperm from a
sea urchin, a rooster, a fruit fly, a human and a fish.

The findings were unexpected because many sex-specific
genes, including other genes involved in sperm production, are usually under evolutionary
pressure to change.

"It's really surprising because sperm production gets
pounded by natural selection," Xu said. "It tends to change due to
strong selective pressures for sperm-specific genes to evolve. There is extra http://www.livescience.com/health/top10-bizarre-contraceptives.html">The
History and Future of Birth Control

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    How old is the gene that makes all sperms? 600 millions years apparently. Surprisingly evolution had no effect on the Boule gene.

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