In the testis of fruit flies, the creation of mature sperm, or spermatogenesis, starts with a germline stem cell going through several rounds of mitosis to form early spermatocytes. After meiosis, these cells become late spermatocytes, which then develop into early and late spermatids. Witt et al. show that fixed de novo genes, which emerge from non-coding sequences, are expressed during mid-spermatogenesis, in particular in early spermatocytes. In contrast, other types of new genes, for example which come from gene duplication, are expressed at different stages.
Image credit: Witt et al., 2019; adapted from Figure 1A (CC BY 4.0).