/ Transmission Time / Comedy / Interview with Dr Craig Smith about current gene reasearch in changing the sex of chickens


Program 368. On this episode we talk to Dr Craig Smith who is an ARC Future Fellow at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital, in Melbourne, Australia.

Dr Smith talks about the process of genetic manipulation of chicken embryos to change their sex and its possible implications to the chicken industry and to humans. We also discuss the case of the Italian Roster who started laying eggs after all the hens in ‘his’ enclosure were killed by a fox.

We also discuss the interesting cases of gynandromorophic birds (gyn = female’ andro = male = morph = form). These birds are male on one side of the body and female on the other. On the male side, Gynandromorphic chickens have a large leg with a spur on it, enlarged breast muscle and a comb typical of roosters. On the female side, the same bird has a smaller leg with small spur, less developed breast muscle and no comb. It is very unlikely that hormones are the cause of Gynandromorphic chickens – because hormones would flow in the blood to both sides of the body. Instead, scientists suggest that each cell in the body “knows” its sex, independently of – or in addition to – hormones. It is possible that a similar situation exists in other animals, including humans.


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