Recent scientific discoveries in Japan indicated that a genetic switch enables vertebrates to turn sperm in egg cells and the other way around. The alteration of the germ cells did not determine any other changes in the aspect of the vertebrates.
A team of researchers from the National Institutes of Natural Science in Japan set out to identify the cause of germ cell mutations in vertebrates. The group was carefully supervised by Minoru Tanaka, a professor at the said science institute, who has spent great part of his life studying the evolution and behavior of vertebrates.
The recent study was performed on Medaka (Oryzias latipes), the famous rice fish that is specific for the Japanese cuisine. Scientists were aware that this fish species has the ability to change its sex cells in certain environment conditions, but they could not say what exactly the factor that contributed to this alteration was.
For that matter, they have gathered a small group of female fish belonging to the Medaka (Oryzias latipes) species and removed the foxl3 gene from their system. This gene was said to be responsible for the germ cell transformation, but no precise study confirmed or denied the hypothesis.
The female exemplars, whose foxl3 gene has been removed changed their germ cells in sperm. This finding clearly indicates that the respective genetic switch enables vertebrates to turn sperm in egg cells.
Further studies have shown that the appearance of the fish remains the same even though they produce different types of sex cells. Their reproductive organs have also remained the same all throughout the experiment, but scientists went on performing additional tests to verify their findings.
They reproduced the experiment on male fish to see if they can turn germ cells into eggs when the foxl3 genetic switch is removed. Their supposition came true when the fish began eliminating eggs instead of sperm, even though their sexual organs did not suffer any alteration.
Moreover, scientists were able to conclude that female fish are more prolific than male exemplars. The quantity of sperm cells they produced was far bigger than the egg cells created by male vertebrates.
Minoru Tanaka, the leader of the experiment, thinks a similar study in humans could have a positive outcome, as well. He expressed his belief that humans could have a similar genetic switch responsible for the genus of their sex cells. Further studies should focus on this matter, the scientist concluded.
Image Source: Phys.org