Men, remember this name. Boule. That is the name of the single gene that is responsible for sperm production. Apparently, it is the same gene that all animals carry, all the way back to the most simple of organisms such as sea anemones, snails, flies and fish. This means that going back about 600 million years, sperm production has been the necessary means of species continuation for all life, and remember, life only originated on this planet about 1 billion years ago. So the process of gamete-seeks-immobile-egg had stabilized as the primary means of sexual reproduction after about 400 million years of life.
I’m not a scientist, so if someone with a better understanding feels I’m in error, please let me know, but it seems that this is further illustration of the common ancestry of all species. Not only do we share genetic lineage with so-called monkeys (primates, like us) but also with all other species, back to the most simple of organisms.
(A good book for those interested in more, is Richard Dawkins’ The Ancestor’s Tale, which takes a backward journey through life to show us where various ancestors diverged in the tree, or bush, of life. It’s a big book, but written lucidly for the layman.)
The discovery of Boule (not sure why they had to name it thusly) holds promise of technologies in human contraception and disease reduction.
“A sperm-specific gene like Boule is an ideal target for a male contraceptive drug,” Xu noted.
Boule also has the potential to reduce diseases caused by mosquitoes and parasites such as worms.
“We now have one strong candidate to target for controlling their breeding,” Xu said. “Our work suggests that disrupting the function of Boule in animals most likely will disrupt their breeding and put the threatening parasites or germs under control. This could represent a new direction in our future development of pesticides or medicine against infectious parasites or carriers of germs.”
OK, those of you lower primates so inclined, feel free to now insert your sperm jokes here.