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Wayne State University Researcher Argues That Sex Reduces Genetic Variation



7/8/2011 8:29:19 AM

Biology textbooks maintain that the main function of sex is to promote genetic diversity. But Henry Heng, Ph.D., associate professor in WSU's Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, says that's not the case. Heng and fellow researcher Root Gorelick, Ph.D., associate professor at Carleton University in Canada, propose that although diversity may result from a combination of genes, the primary function of sex is not about promoting diversity. Rather, it's about keeping the genome context – an organism's complete collection of genes arranged by chromosome composition and topology – as unchanged as possible, thereby maintaining a species' identity. This surprising analysis has been published as a cover article in a recent issue of the journal Evolution.

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