Keymales
First developed by the GeneTEK megacorp in the Jovian League golden age, the Cryptokey geneline was additional to the male and female genome involved in ordinary sexual reproduction.

Without the additional cryptokey chromosomes, (which disappear by autolysis during the development of the embryo but before birth) the copyrighted organism would not be viable, and so even if a breeding pair were acquired by a rival corporation or nation state the geneline could not reproduce.

This mechanism was refined by the Genen (thousands of years later) into a third sex, the so-called Keymale, which contributed the 'key' chromosomes in any act of fertilisation, which are conveyed in a reduced, virus-like spermcel. Keymales are rare; often a population has fewer than one keymale for every hundred individuals.

When it is necessary for the keymale population to increase, the keymale will release normal-sized sperm, which will produce a single keymale offspring. Keymales are protected by numerous bodyguards to prevent genetic piracy.
 
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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers

Initially published on 13 February 2003.