Monday, January 12, 2009

Love Rat

According to recent article in a well-regarded national publication, romance can be linked to a single gene. How this did not make front page news I will never understand. I read the article from top to bottom (as well as backwards and upside down) and have the following synopsis to offer you:

* The romance gene (identifiable to scientists as AVPR1A) can be found in humans as well as animals, however some men can have particular versions of this gene (go figure). Those particular men are twice as likely to remain unmarried as other men. According to the study, those men who actually DID manage to tie the knot are twice as likely to report a recent crisis in their marriage.

The study used voles to test the gene theory. If you are unfamiliar with voles (see cute picture above), they are rodents. I wonder how the scientists chose to test rodents to compare with men instead of, say, ANY OTHER ANIMAL used for testing???!!! Anyhoo, there are 2 types of voles and both were used as cohorts. According to Wikipedia, the prairie (or woodland) vole "is a notable animal model for sexual fidelity , since the male is usually faithful to the female, and shares in the raising of pups." We already like THAT vole. The meadow vole "has promiscuously mating males" and we don't like that vole.

A study done in 2004 actually tried to turn MONOGAMOUS voles into PROMISCUOUS voles by tinkering with this gene (MUST have been a group of exclusively male scientists and MUST have been funded by Hefner). The group of kinder, gentler and obviously FEMALE scientists who tried to turn this study around found that the amount of receptors available to absorb the gene dictated how monogamous or promiscuous the voles were. When they managed to increase receptors in those philandering meadow voles, they became less inclined to stray. Next steps? They hope to find a way to increase the amount of receptors available so that the gene can be better absorbed by men. The only problem? They are not sure how this gene can be tampered with in humans..... I would like to assure you that I am on the case and will provide a link to the charity that I will create to help fund the necessary research!

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