Mutations in the mitochondria, the energy generating structures in cells, could be the reason why women manage to outlive men, a new study by Australian researchers reveals.
Researchers at Monash University in Melbourne studied male and female fruit flies and found that while their children received almost all of their genes from both the father and the mother, their mitochondrial genes were acquired only through the mother.
The researchers said that any genetic mutations in the mitochondria that were harmful for the father was not passed on to the children. "If a mitochondrial mutation occurs that harms fathers, but has no effect on mothers, this mutation will slip through the gaze of natural selection, unnoticed. Over thousands of generations, many such mutations have accumulated that harm only males, while leaving females unscathed", lead researcher Dr Damian Dowling said.