Older fathers pass more gene mutations to kids

Do you know that those who become father at late age tend to pass more gene mutations to their children as each extra year of age results in two extra mutations?

In humans, each individual inherits, on average, about 70 new mutations from their parents and fathers account for 75 percent of these mutations.

Paternal age is an established risk factor in a number of disorders, including schizophrenia and autism.

In a study on chimpanzees that emphasises the importance of father’s age on evolution, researchers have found that the offspring of chimpanzees inherit 90 percent of new mutations from their father and just 10 percent from their mother.

“In humans, a father’s age is known to affect how many new mutations he passes on to his children and is also an established risk factor in a number of mental health disorders,” said professor Gil McVean from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at University of Oxford.

Researchers looked at whether in chimpanzees, there was a heightened risk of fathers passing on mutations to their children compared to humans.

Mutation risk is linked to father’s age because the sperm lineage in males keeps dividing, while females have all the eggs they are ever going to produce present at birth.

The study found that the effect of the father’s age is much stronger – each additional year of father’s age results in three extra mutations.

“The results suggest that sexual selection can influence the rate of evolution through its effect on the male mutation rate,” said the study published in the journal Science.

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For the study, researchers sequenced the genomes of nine western chimpanzees from a three generation family living at the Biomedical Primate Research Centre in the Netherlands.

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