Love Potion #9? Actually, the Secret of Attraction May Lie in Your Genes

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People are
more likely to become lovers if their genes share little in common,
according to a study that demonstrates a possible biological mechanism
controlling the sexual attraction between men and women.

Heterosexual
men and women with dissimilar genes are more likely to get married
than people with a similar genetic heritage. The findings indicate
that certain genes control some of the subconscious desires behind
the choice of one partner over another, as a way of preventing inbreeding
and boosting a child’s immune defences.

Researchers
studied the genes of 90 married couples and found that their DNA
in a key region of their chromosomes was significantly different
compared with the same stretch of DNA in 152 couples chosen at random
from the population and who were neither married nor having sexual
relations with one another.

The genes,
called the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), are part of the
immune system. This is the first rsearch of its kind showing that
they may play a significant role in whether or not couples are likely
to get married.

If the MHC
genes played no role in the choice of a mate, then the scientists
would expect to find similar differences between both sets of couples
– the married and the unmarried. However, the statistically
significant difference suggests that the dissimilar MHC genes influenced
whether men and women become attracted to one another.

"Although
it is tempting to think that humans choose their partners because
of their similarities, our research has shown clearly that it is
differences that make for successful reproduction, and that the
subconscious drive to have healthy children is important when choosing
a mate," said Professor Maria da Graca Bicalho of the University
of Parana in Brazil.

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the rest of the article

May
26, 2009

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