One child, two fathers -- marmoset-style

Twin marmosets routinely exchange stem cells that end up in a range of tissues, even sometimes passing a sibling's genes onto offspring

Chris Womack
Mar 26, 2007
Marmosets are close-knit primates, but siblings are incredibly tight -- as embryos, fraternal twins trade stem cells that become part of a wide range of tissue types, including sex organs and sperm cells, according to an article appearing online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. As a result, some chimeric marmosets can pass a sibling's DNA onto their offspring. Humans and other animal species often carry a mother's or a twin's blood cells along with their own, but "this is the first strong claim that chimerism is much more extensive than just in the blood cells," said David Haig, a professor of biology at Harvard University who was not involved in the study.Chimerism may even have an effect on marmoset behavior, the authors note. In this study, marmoset fathers were more likely to carry their chimeric offspring than their non-chimeric offspring,...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?