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© 2015 The Author. BioEssays published by WILEY Periodicals, Inc. We now take for granted that despite the disproportionate contribution of females to initial growth of their progeny, there is little or no asymmetry in the contribution of males and females to the eventual character of their shared offspring. In fact, this key insight was only established towards the end of the eighteenth century by Joseph Koelreuter's pioneering plant breeding experiments. If males and females supply equal amounts of hereditary material, then the latter must double each time an embryo is conceived. How then does the amount of this mysterious stuff not multiply exponentially from generation to generation? A compensatory mechanism for diluting the hereditary material must exist, one that ensures that if each parent contributes one half, each grandparent contributes a quarter, and each great grandparent merely an eighth. An important piece of the puzzle of how hereditary material is diluted at each generation has been elucidated over the past ten years.

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Journal article



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657 - 665