Scientists from the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBS) think they may have discovered a biological reason why some people are homosexual, although the theory still needs to be tested on humans.
According to US News & World Report, NIMBS researchers say they have discovered that gays and lesbians get a homosexual trait which can be passed down to them from the opposite gendered parent. While they have long known that there is no genetic link to homosexuality, scientists believe they may have come up with another explanation involving “epi-marks”, which are layers of genetic information that control how certain genes are expressed.
“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,” said William Rice, professor of evolutionary biology at the University of California Santa Barbara and lead author of the study.
It was recently discovered that these epi-marks are temporary and usually produced anew each generation, although they can sometimes survive and be inherited, thus producing a child with same-sex attraction.
However, to prove the theory, researchers will now need to test parents and their offspring.
Despite the lack of testing, Rice believes the epigenetic link makes more sense than any other explanation.
“We’ve found a story that looks really good,” he says. “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.”
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