Scientists uncover genetic foundations of bisexuality

Scientists uncover genetic foundations of bisexuality
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A RECENT study has shown that the genetic variant underlying human bisexual behavior (BSB) is linked to risk-taking behaviors and a high number of offspring.

By studying the DNA database of over 450,00 people of European descent in the United Kingdom, the study, published on January 3 on Science Advances, showed how one gene could influence multiple traits -- a phenomenon commonly known as "pleiotropy."

"Nature is complicated," Jianzhi Zhang, author of the study and professor at the University of Michigan, told the Agence France-Presse (AFP). "Here we're talking about three traits: number of children, risk-taking, and bisexual behavior -- they all share some genetic underpinnings."

Aside from analyzing DNA patterns from the UK Biobank -- a biomedical database and resource for extensive research -- the study also involved a survey where participants answered questions such as "How many children have you fathered?" and "Would you describe yourself as someone who takes risks?"

The study then revealed that heterosexual men who consider themselves as risk-takers tend to have a higher number of children and are more likely to carry the BSB-associated alleles forward compared to those who described themselves as non-risk-takers.

"These results also suggest that risk-taking behavior is the underlying cause of BSB-associated alleles' promotion of reproduction in heterosexuals," Zhang said. "That is, the reproductive advantage of BSB-associated alleles is a byproduct of the reproductive advantage of risk-taking behavior."

The researchers were also able to confirm through the study that BSB and exclusive same-sex sexual behavior (eSSB) are genetically distinct from each other as the latter is associated with only fewer offspring, meaning that traits associated with the eSSB will fade away, eventually.

While the study is not representative of the general population, the researchers said that they hope the results will contribute to a deeper understanding of human sexuality.

"They are not, in any way, intended to suggest or endorse discrimination on the basis of sexual behavior," the researchers noted. (Ayra Monette S. Tamaray/Contributor)


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