Are there any known virgin births? Sort of, but not really

By | January 5, 2014

Are there any known virgin births? Sort of, but not reallyParthenogenesis is a form of asexual reproduction in which growth and development of embryos occur without fertilization. In animals, parthenogenesis means development of an embryo from an unfertilized egg cell.

Are there any case reports of virgin births in the medical literature? Sort of. According to a 1995 report in the journal Nature Genetics, a mother brought her infant boy to the doctor after noticing that his head was developing abnormally. When doctors analyzed his blood, they found something truly bizarre: Despite his anatomically male features, the boy’s blood cells were entirely female, consisting only of genetic material from his mother. Some of his other cells—such as those found in his urine—were normal, consisting of a combination of both maternal and paternal DNA. No one knows exactly how this occurred, but the best guess is that immediately after being fertilized, one of his mother’s eggs fused with a neighboring unfertilized egg that was dividing parthogenetically. This gave rise to a boy who was considered half-parthenogenetic, since approximately half of his cells were derived from a “faux” conception, containing no remnants of his father’s DNA.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2007/12/can_a_virgin_give_birth.html

This was not really a virgin birth but a child was shown to exist with blood cells which have no genetic contribution from the father. That is normally not possible since each blood cell has DNA from both patents.

See: Nature Genetics 11, 164 – 169 (1995) “A human parthenogenetic chimaera”
http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/v11/n2/abs/ng1095-164.html

There are no known cases of naturally occurring mammalian parthenogenesis in the wild.  On August 2, 2007, after much independent investigation, it was revealed that discredited South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-Suk unknowingly produced the first human embryos resulting from parthenogenesis

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parthenogenesis#Humans

2 thoughts on “Are there any known virgin births? Sort of, but not really

  1. Xeno Post author

    Isn’t it great that we are all related by a common ancestor a few thousand years ago? TMRCA of all living humans. 😉

    That’s a revolting comment cousin Oliver. Assuming that you don’t suffer from a typing variant of Tourette Syndrome, what so annoyed you about the idea of human parthenogenesis that you took the time to write a comment like that? Just curious.

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