Shocking sex secrets

Opinion

The Shocking Sex Secrets of Insects

NY Times by Marlene Zuk

Excerpt: “Evolution is all about reproduction. What happens at the business end of an animal is essential to whether eggs are fertilized and genes passed on, and nowhere is the variation in sex organs more breathtaking than in insects.”

My comment: The physiology of reproduction is nutrient-dependent and controlled by species-specific pheromones in species from microbes to man. What’s shocking about this report on the sex secrets of insects is a researcher has again failed to recognize that conservation of molecular mechanisms that enable reproduction 13 years after Elekonich and Robinson (2000) extended our 1996 model of hormone-organized and hormone-activated mammalian behavior to insects.  It seems as if many experts have remained oblivious to the biological facts that link what is currently known about the epigenetic effects of olfactory/pheromonal input on adaptations across a continuum of changes in morphology and behavior that define different species.

Since she studies crickets, I wonder if Marlene Zuk has heard about

1) the link between the mandible and genitalia of crickets, which was reported in the context of ecological divergence that precedes sexual divergence, or

2) the link between the diet of grazing nematodes and predatory nematodes with teeth, which is associated with differences in neurogenesis and behavior, or

3) the link between the diet of a human population that supposedly arose during the past ~30,000 in what is now central China and differences in their hair, skin, teeth, and mammary tissue that parallel differences in mice that are due to a single base pair change and single amino acid substitution (see for review Kohl, 2013).

Clearly, if she wants to discuss genitalia, sexual positions, or differences in behavior in the context of evolution, she could begin with nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled differences in crickets and extend them to humans as we did prior to the review article by Elekonich and Robinson. However, we started with yeasts and link the physiology of their nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled behavior to other mammals.

Author: James Kohl

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