evolution of male homosexuality

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080617204459.htm

ScienceDaily (June 18, 2008) — An Italian research team, consisting of Andrea Camperio Ciani and Giovanni Zanzotto at the University of Padova and Paolo Cermelli at the University of Torino, found that the evolutionary origin and maintenance of male homosexuality in human populations could be explained by a model based around the idea of sexually antagonistic selection, in which genetic factors spread in the population by giving a reproductive advantage to one sex while disadvantaging the other.

Male homosexuality is thought to be influenced by psycho-social factors, as well as having a genetic component. This is suggested by the high concordance of sexual orientation in identical twins and the fact that homosexuality is more common in males belonging to the maternal line of male homosexuals. These effects have not been shown for female homosexuality, indicating that these two phenomena may have very different origins and dynamics.

the authors of the new study considered a range of different hypotheses for the genetic diffusion of male homosexuality. These included: the genetic maternal effects on sons, the heterozygote advantage (as is found in malaria resistance), and “sexually antagonistic selection.” The latter is a particular aspect of Darwinian evolution, in which genetic factors spread in the population by giving a reproductive advantage to one sex while disadvantaging the other. This type of evolution has been previously found in insects, birds, and some mammals, but never in humans.

They concluded that the only possible model was that of sexually antagonistic selection. The other models did not fit the empirical data, either implying that the alleles would become extinct too easily or invade the population, or failing to describe the distribution patterns of male homosexuality and female fecundity observed in the families of homosexuals. Only the model of sexually antagonistic selection involving at least two genes — at least one of which must be on the X chromosome (inherited in males only through their mother) — accounted for all the known data.

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