Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The relationship between genitals and hind legs

06.11.2014

Like arms and legs, external genitals are a result of adaptation to a terrestrial habitat. A study on snakes, lizards and mice financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation now shows why the embryonic development of genitals and hind legs is so similar.

When vertebrates left the seas and conquered the land, they not only adapted their limbs to the new environment, but also their reproductive organs. Whereas fish and amphibians reproduce under water, reptiles, birds and mammals do so on land. In order to prevent their eggs from drying up, they let their germ cells fuse together inside the body. For this purpose, they had to develop new features.


Schlangenembryo

"Like branches from a tree trunk"

"External genitals make internal fertilisation possible," says Patrick Tschopp. In the journal "Nature", the Swiss biologist has traced the origins of the male sexual organ in snakes, lizards, chickens and mice together with his colleagues from Switzerland, France and the United States (*).

In very simplified terms, an embryo at first resembles a tube. As it continues to develop, the upper and lower limb buds begin to sprout. "Like branches from a tree trunk," says Tschopp. In mice, the hind-leg buds are always separate from the embryonic structures out of which the reproductive organ develops. In snakes and lizards, however, the genitals develop in a way very similar to the hind legs.

Hemipenises

Sex-specific genes are only activated at a later stage, as the researchers have been able to show through elaborate experiments. Hemipenises, the lateral pair of reproductive organs in snakes and lizards, thus probably developed from hind legs (although snakes lost theirs in the course of evolution).

Tschopp specialises in basic research, no treatment methods can be derived from his findings yet. But Tschopp thinks that the results might at least partially explain why, in the case of certain congenital diseases, deformed arms and legs are often coupled with damage to the external genitals. The reason lies in the similar development processes and molecular affinity between sexual organs and hind legs.

(*) Patrick Tschopp, Emma Sherratt, Thomas J. Sanger, Anna C. Groner, Ariel C. Aspiras, Jimmy K. Hu, Olivier Pourquié, Jérôme Gros, and Clifford J. Tabin (2014). A relative shift in cloacal location repositions external genitalia in amniote evolution. Nature online. doi: 10.1038/nature13819 (available to journalists as a PDF from com@snf.ch)

Contact

Dr Patrick Tschopp
Department of Genetics
Harvard Medical School
Boston, USA
Tel.: +1 (617) 432 65 32
E-mail: tschopp@genetics.med.harvard.edu


Weitere Informationen:

http://www.snf.ch/en/researchinFocus/newsroom/Pages/news-141105-mm-the-relationship-between-genitals-and-hind-legs.aspx

Media - Abteilung Kommunikation | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht On track to heal leukaemia
18.01.2017 | Universitätsspital Bern

nachricht Penn vet research identifies new target for taming Ebola
12.01.2017 | University of Pennsylvania

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Explaining how 2-D materials break at the atomic level

18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Data analysis optimizes cyber-physical systems in telecommunications and building automation

18.01.2017 | Information Technology

Reducing household waste with less energy

18.01.2017 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>