April 24, 2019
To be posted on Nobabies.net
Patrick Concannon, PhD Director
UF Genetics Institute
P. O. Box 103610
Gainesville, FL 32610-3610
Dear Dr. Concannon,
I have a favor to ask. “Ask” is not the right word, but I can’t remember the
word for dropping to my knees, crying on your feet and drying them with my wispy hair, all within the limits of proper dignity of course.
For years I have pursued the mechanism linking kinship and fertility as called for by Sibly. (The references are all on the enclosed DVD, Word, Windows 10, “collection” being the shorter version, “Hans” being the quick proof from gapminder.com Most of the people I show this to are indifferent, most of the rest furious and the remainder terrified so have your favorite snack handy.) So far, I have demonstrated the mechanism in the lab in fruit flies, with the weight of the evidence suggesting both pre-zygotic and post-zygotic processes, each mediated by an epigenetic mechanism, probably methylation and significantly affected by folic acid in clinical doses.
My work, now years ago, on the computer simulation suggests that all the methylation sites are next each other on a chromosome or maybe on two chromosomes, one for pre and one for post. The obvious next question is which chromosomes. Now keep me honest. Remember that more kinship means more fertility, and clutch that most important of all truths to your heart. So establish eight stable lines of fruit flies, each with a visible marker for a specific chromosome. Each generation (I have used 2 weeks) shake out the flies, count them and start a new generation 4 male, 4 female. (Shaking them out is a black art. Be too gentle and the flies will mostly resist dropping into a new vial. Be too rough and the whole mess – flies, dead flies, fly poop, nutrient and partridge in pear tree – goes glop and the line is useless. I am hoping you have a better technique. I shake them out on three successive days so as to get a useable sum.)
Continue to watch me like a hawk. Here is my idea. (Yes, yes, I know you’re not supposed to have any new ideas past age 30, and I’m 77; sue me.) Once your lines seem stable, dump all the flies into a grand mix in a large container. Follow them for a generation, then pull out 4 males and 4 females of each identifiable chromosome. Run them a generation and then have a generation of panmixia. It doesn’t so much matter how many flies are in the grand mix so long as it’s a lot and you have the same number of flies in each sex and every marked chromosome. I expect the upshot to be that one or two of the lines will show greater fertility than the others, since the periodic contraction of the population size will benefit them but not lines that are not marked for the critical chromosomes.
If my logic passes the mustard, good. Now it need only be done. But advancing age has sapped my energy; this is work for a young stud such as you. This is mission critical and I can give you a couple of thousand toward the cost. No grant application. I can drive up to Gainesville and go over the graphs with you over dinner, my treat. Are you game?
M. Linton Herbert MD