King Henry VIII of England beheaded his wives when they did not produce sons. Indicate why a little knowledge of meiosis might have been important for Henry’s wives.

Question for Bio, I can’t understand what exactly the answer would be. Any help would be appreciated.

2 Responses to “Why would a little knowledge of Meiosis have been important for King Henry VIII wives?”

  • Victoria B:

    because he beheaded them thinking they were the reason he had no sons but if he knew about meiosis he would know that the male is the one that determines the gender. it was his fault.

  • andymanec:

    In meiosis, the chromosomal content of the cell is divided *nearly* in half. Each germ cell winds up with one copy of every chromosome. Normally, females produce an egg with 22 autosomes and 1 X chromosome (only one egg is produced, and the other copies of the genome are discarded).

    I say “nearly in half” in reference to the father. Males have 44 autosomes, one X, and one Y. Split that in half, and you get 22+X and 22+Y. It’s not a perfectly symmetrical division.

    So, how does this apply to King Henry? Since a male offspring requires an X and a Y chromosome, and the father is the only one capable of contributing that Y chromosome, the responsibility, genetically speaking, rested with him.

    You can ignore this last part if you don’t want to be too picky. The “fault” (nothing conscious, of course) could also lie with the mother, in this case. Under normal, healthy circumstances, it’s the father that contributes the Y chromosome and determines sex. However, if you introduce a fatal mutation into one of the mother’s X chromosomes, she can be behind the inability to produce male offspring. In normal cells, there are two copies of every chromosome. Females also have two X chromosomes… if one is defective, then they have a spare. If a male child receives the defective X from the mother, though, he won’t have a second copy to counteract it. This could result in a minor condition, like colorblindness, or something fatal, leading to spontaneous abortion or stillbirth.

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