The Genetics of Monogamy! Guys? Girls? You better read this:

Ever wonder why some people are exceedingly good at being with someone and others struggle?  Most would blame it on personality, upbringing, hormones.  But what if you found out it was out of your control?  What if you found out you were predisposed from birth to be monogamous or not!?

Scientists at Emory University have begun to study Prairie voles and have come out with some amazing discoveries!  The reason they studied prairie voles is they are a monogamous rodent!   A similar species though the meadow voles are super promiscuous and love to be in the end alone.

The faithful prairie voles. taken from

What researches did was attempt to study the genetic differences between these two species and what the found was humorous at the very least.  They found that these genetic differences are linked to a hormone called vasopressin and a protein molecule that acts as a receptor.    The more receptors you have in your brain the more pleasure you receive from monogamous activity.  The fewer vasopressin receptors you have the more your tendencies sway towards promiscuity.

They took this a step further.  By creating a virus carrier of the gene responsible for the higher levels of vasopressin receptors, they were able to inject embryonic meadow voles that suddenly were incredibly monogamous once grown to adult hood.  They used green fluorescent proteins from a jelly fish as the tag for the gene to ensure the voles had been transgenic ally altered.

In a few cases of mutation the monogamous rodents became very promiscuous but for the majority most altered their behavior and passed this down to their offspring too.

That promiscuous meadow vole!

Some research has even shown its possible to inject this virus into adult meadow voles and make them better partners and highly monogamous.

Wonder how this applies to people?  Should be interesting…..

Posted on June 4, 2010, in Scientific Research and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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