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UT Experts: Can Homosexuality Be Inherited?

Newspaper article News Sentinel

UT Experts: Can Homosexuality Be Inherited?

Article excerpt

Children may inherit homosexuality from their parents, according to a study published today by scientists at the University of Tennessee.

The research uses mathematical modeling to show sexual orientation may not be linked to genetics exactly, but to the chemicals attached to DNA that turn genetic markers on and off.

"The genes for homosexuality have not been identified yet despite a very significant effort," said Sergey Gavrilets, a professor in UT's National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis.

"When you put it together in one very coherent framework, (the theory) is very logical and is supported by mathematical modeling. It is an explanation that seems to be working much better than any existing explanations."

The model Gavrilets and his collaborators developed still needs to be tested with experiments looking for these triggers in DNA, he said.

Still, the new explanation into why homosexuality seems to run in families is encouraging to a lot of scientists he's spoken to in the field, he said.

For decades, scientists have been searching for the "gay gene" -- that definitive link that shows homosexuality is hereditary. The pursuit has yielded mixed results and little hard proof.

This new theory -- which lies in a relatively new field of epigenetics -- seems to be far more plausible, Gavrilets said.

It centers around epi-marks, an additional layer of information attached to our DNA that directs exactly how our genes are expressed. …

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