These as-yet-unresolved issues fascinate Timothy Karr, a developmental geneticist and evolutionary biologist at Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute. To probe them, he uses a common fruit fly, Drosophila melanogasteran organism that has provided science with an enormous treasure-trove of genetic information.
"My research focuses on the evolution of sex and in gamete function," Karr says. "I focus primarily on the sperm side of the sexual equation. I'm interested in how they originated and how they are maintained in populations."
Karr's current study, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Chicago, recently appeared in the journal BMC Biology. The study reexamines an earlier paper that analyzed the sex chromosomes of fruit flies during spermatogenesisthe process that produces mature sperm from germ cells.
While the previous paper, by Lyudmila M Mikhaylova and Dmitry I Nurminsky, argued against the silencing of sex-linked genes on the X chromosome in Drosophila during meiosisa process referred to as Meiotic Sex Chromosome Inactivation (MSCI) the reanalysis presented by Karr suggests MSCI is indeed occurring.