“This is exciting because it is absolutely unexpected,” said Manfred Schartl of the University of Würzburg in Germany who was not involved in the work. “That these germ cells have genetically determined sexual fate is new.”
“This shows how plastic the sexual fate of these germ cells is in this species,” said Josephine Bowles of the University of Queensland in Australia who also was not involved in the study.
Whether similar genetic control of germ cells occurs in other species remains to be seen.
“Given the limitations of current sequencing technologies, this [frequency of mosaic mutations] may be just touching the tip of the iceberg,” said Philip Awadalla of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and the University of Toronto who was not involved in the work.
“We consider ourselves as ‘individual’ partially because our genomic makeup is unique,” said Anne Goriely of the University of Oxford who was not involved in the work. “But we are multicellular organisms, containing many populations of cells precisely organized into different tissues and organs. This study suggests that some of our cells carry different versions of our genomes. . . . The implication of this finding is profound, both from a clinical and a philosophical standpoint.”
Meanwhile, The Guardian’s Notes & Theories examined “the unseen women scientists behind Tim Hunt’s Nobel prize,” including Joan Ruderman, with whom he worked to discover cyclins at the Marine Biology Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. “The field Hunt partly created, as well as his own scientific career, have both flourished due to his intellectual collaborations with women, as well as countless other academic partnerships between men and women,” wrote Helen Cahill.
Other news in life science:
Synthetic Biology Entrepreneur Dies
Austen Heinz, who founded Cambrian Genomics to custom print DNA and had grand ideas about designing organisms, has passed away at age 31.
NIH Extramural Research Head Resigns
Sally Rockey, deputy director of extramural research at the National Institutes of Health, is leaving the agency this fall to lead an agriculture nonprofit.
Casting a Small Net
Scientists inject flexible, electronic mesh structures into mouse brains to track neurons in real time.
More Lab-Made Nucleotides
Artificial bases that act like the real deal can be designed to bind specifically to tumor cells.
Limbs in the Lab
Scientists bioengineer rat arms and hands from scaffolds stripped of their cellular material.