Scientists in Utah have turned a straight worm gay.
By altering a gene in the brain of a female worm, scientists were able to change its sexual orientation so that it was attracted to other females. Scientists activated the gene that makes male structures develop in the body, but only turned it on in the brain.
The result was worms that “look like girls, but act and think like boys,” according to Jamie White, a researcher on the study.
The study supports the idea that sexual orientation is the result of the brain’s wiring. Erik Jorgensen, scientific director of the Brain Institute at the University of Utah, said the study “suggests sexual behavior is encoded in our genes.”
Not everyone agrees with Jorgensen, and even he admits the study is not likely to fully explain human sexual orientation. Though worms and humans share much of the same dna, the complexity of the human brain means the study couldn’t possibly answer all the questions on our sexuality.
The origins of human sexual orientation have yet to be adequately explained. Scientists argue theories from hormones and genetics to environment.
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