New Gay Gene Research

Wed. October 13, 2004 12:00 AM by

Trenton, New Jersey - The argument over the source of homosexuality, nature vs nurture, won't go away. The latest research comes from a team of geneticists in Italy who claim that genetics plus cultural and early childhood experiences play a combined role.

The scientists, at the University of Padua, say the genetic components are linked to the X chromosome which is inherited only from the mother. But they say that the components are probably on other chromosomes, and that this is only part of the picture.

"The key factor is that these genes both influence homosexuality in men, higher fecundity in females and are in the maternal and not the paternal line," Andrea Camperio-Ciani, who headed the research team, said in an interview.

More than a decade ago American scientists reported finding evidence of a "gay gene" in men. But other researchers questioned the finding when they could not duplicate the results.

Camperio-Ciani and his team suggest that several genes could be involved, including those on the X chromosome.

His research is reported in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.

"We know that at least one of these genetic factors on the X chromosome but that is not enough, there must be other genetic factors that are important but are elsewhere," he said.

The results are based on a study of 98 homosexual and 100 heterosexual men and about 4,600 of their relatives. The scientists compared the frequency of gay men on the maternal and paternal lines of the families.

Among the gay men there were a greater number of gays in the maternal line of the family, as well as greater fertility in the female relatives.

An early interest in sex before the age of 10 was also a predictor of homosexuality, Camperio-Ciani claims.

"We can no longer say that is it impossible to have a gene that influences homosexuality because we found out that genes might have different effects depending on gender," he added

But he added that cultural and individual experience also play a part.

© 2004

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