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"Switching off" an insect's body clock can make it more virile

American scientists have discovered that if an insect's body clock is "switched off", it may copulate for significantly longer. True, this only harms chances of reproduction, as the female releases less eggs and becomes less fertile. This was the conclusion reached by researchers at Oregon State University in the United States.

According to the Daily Telegraph (UK), scientists have "awakened sexual desire" among male midges by removing the genes that control the organism's body clock. Since people have exactly the same genes, the discovery may shed light on possibilities for extending the duration of the sexual act for men. Two genes, which determine the vital components of an organism's daily rhythm have been given the names 'timeless' (TIM) and 'period' (PER). These genes govern the day-night and sleeping-waking cycles. However, as the researchers say, they may also affect the functioning of shorter cycles, in this case, copulation. It has been established that male midges lacking in one or two genes can copulate one and a half times longer than the normal 15 minutes – particularly in the morning. Females gain no advantage from removal of "clock genes". Only the males can determine how long the intercourse will last. "It's the male who decides when it's all over," said Professor Jaga Gibultovich. Under the artificial conditions, less sperm is produced in the male organism, while the female releases less eggs, which are also on average less fertile. The discovery was made by accident when, during an experiment, a student-intern noticed that mutated males copulated for twice as long in comparison to ordinary midges. "They lose track of time," said Gibultovich. Whether the removal of clock genes from people would affect the duration of the sexual act is not yet known. "That would be a great experiment," researchers

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12/2008 02/2009


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