Disposable parts of plants mutate more quickly

Mutation rates are proposed to be a pragmatic balance struck between the harmful effects of mutations and the costs of suppressing them; this hypothesis predicts that longer-lived body parts and those that contribute to the ...

CRISPR gene editing: Why we need Slow Science

In a newly published article in Nature, a group of prominent scientists and ethicists have called for a moratorium on clinical research using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing.

A possible explanation for how germlines are rejuvenated

(Phys.org)—A pair of researchers affiliated with the University of California and Calico Life Sciences, has discovered a possible explanation regarding how human germlines are rejuvenated. In their paper published in the ...

Safe and ethical ways to edit the human genome

The National Academies of Science and Medicine (NASEM) released a report on Feb. 14 exploring the implications of new technologies that can alter the genome of living organisms, including humans.

No designer babies, but gene editing to avoid disease? Maybe

Don't expect designer babies any time soon—but a major new ethics report leaves open the possibility of one day altering human heredity to fight genetic diseases, with stringent oversight, using new tools that precisely ...

Sex cells evolved to pass on quality mitochondria

Mammals immortalise their genes through eggs and sperm to ensure future generations inherit good quality mitochondria to power the body's cells, according to new UCL research.

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In biology and genetics, the germline of a mature or developing individual is the line (sequence) of germ cells that have genetic material that may be passed to a child.

For example, gametes such as the sperm or the egg, are part of the germline. So are the cells that divide to produce the gametes, called gametocytes, the cells that produce those, called gametogonia, and all the way back to the zygote, the cell from which the individual developed.

Cells that are not in the germline are called somatic cells. This refers to all of the cells of body apart from the gametes. If there is a mutation or other genetic change in the germline, it can potentially be passed to offspring, but a change in a somatic cell will not be.

Germline cells are immortal, in the sense that they have the potential to reproduce indefinitely. This is largely due to the activity of the enzyme known as telomerase. This enzyme extends the telomeres of the chromosome, preventing chromosome fusions and other negative effects of shortened telomeres. Most somatic cells, by comparison, can only divide around 30-50 times according to the Hayflick limit. Certain somatic cells, known as stem cells, also express telomerase and are potentially immortal.

Not all multicellular organisms differentiate cells into somatic and germ lines. Notably, plants have no germline cells separate from stem cells[citation needed].

Germline can refer to a lineage of cells spanning many generations of individuals—for example, the germline that links any living individual to the hypothetical first eukaryote of about 2 billion years ago, from which all plants and animals descend.

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