Better living through genetics: DNA Tweak Turns Vole Mates Into Soul Mates
Once they have been converted, the voles hang around the family nests and even huddle with their female partners after sex.
The research, Young said, could help shed light on monogamy — a rare social behavior — and hints that perhaps specific genes could play a role in human relationships.
But don't expect gene therapy for human swingers.
"This is not something that we should be playing around with," Young said.
Young continued, saying: I mean, come on man, give a vole a break. You don't know what it's like, coming home to a crowded hole everynight with dozens of offspring and the wife all "let's huddle, why don't we huddle anymore, and why didn't you get the dry cleaning? And how do you think we'll put these kids through college on a researcher's salary? Uh. I'm just saying, a guy has to have a release, be he man or vole."
Even if the findings could lead to an elixir for fidelity, a single gene would not solve every problem at home. The genetically altered meadow voles spent more time with their partners, but unlike their naturally faithful prairie relatives, they did not help care for the pups.
That, Young said, probably depends on other neural pathways.
"Like the neural pathways that operate to get your wife to make your mother-in-law go back to Omaha. Or the pathways that make you want to work on building another stupid science fair project just because 'oh, daddy, you're a scientist, help me make another stupid volcano'"
Young also said he would continue his research into male behavior modification once he received his grant for further study of "Chromosome NAG2" in females.