Filed under Eggs and sperm

Mosquito sperm need to smell to swim

Mosquito sperm need to smell to swim

You’ve probably had someone tell you, at some point in your life, that the sense of smell is the sense most tightly linked to memory. Now, scientists have found that at least for mosquitoes, the sense of smell is also linked to the ability of their sperm to swim. The research was published in February in … Continue reading

Don’t stress out your testicles!

Don’t stress out your testicles!

You probably don’t need science to tell you that when you’re stressed out you’re not likely to be in the mood. But can stress cause physical damage to your reproductive cells? A study published this month in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests that it just might. Rats aren’t all that different from people. They … Continue reading

STD puts crickets in the mood

STD puts crickets in the mood

Imagine an STD that made you extra eager for sex. Oh, and it makes you sterile. This STD exists—in insects. Researchers working in a lab that studies field crickets came into work one day only to find, much to their dismay I imagine, that their colony had been infected with a virus. But, as they … Continue reading

Mom, dad and baby make…4?

Mom, dad and baby make…4?

You get half your DNA from your mom and half from your dad, right? Wrong. You may well have stored in the back of your mind, dusty from disuse, a word from some long-ago biology class: “mitochondria.”  You can think of mitochondria as tiny factories in your cells that pump out the energy you need … Continue reading

What your testicles taste

What your testicles taste

Most people probably think of tastebuds as existing only on their tongues, but did you know there are taste buds in testes? It’s true. Sort of. They aren’t exactly like the taste buds in your mouth. Male germ cells–the cells that are destined to become sperm–have molecules on them that can detect bitter tastes. These … Continue reading

Getting Taz’s sperm…with electricity

Getting Taz’s sperm…with electricity

Remember Taz? That lovable, mischief-making cartoon tasmanian devil who traveled around in a mini-tornado of dust? What you probably don’t remember from those cartoons is Taz biting the faces of other devils, aiding the spread of a contagious form of cancer. Tasmanian devils are rapidly face-cancering themselves to extinction. If we don’t do something soon, … Continue reading

Sperm are Cool #3: Giant sperm and the Zenker organ

Sperm are Cool #3: Giant sperm and the Zenker organ

Today, I’m going to write about everyone’s favorite kind of sperm: giant. Who makes giant sperm? It’s not who you might think. The giants of the animal kingdom–whales, elephants–make sperm that are very similar to that of men and mice. Tiny. It’s the little guys who make the biggest sperm. In fact, as I’ve pointed … Continue reading

Fertile eggs created from stem cells

Fertile eggs created from stem cells

You may read about this paper already, about scientists turning stem cells into fertile eggs (for example, this article at NPR). And of course, it deserves the hype. This is certainly a big breakthrough in stem cell research–especially induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell research. iPS cells are similar to embryonic stem cells, except that they … Continue reading

Sperm are Cool #1: Naked Mole Rats

Sperm are Cool #1: Naked Mole Rats

Sperm are pretty cool. Some are tiny, some are huge. Some have hooks, some crawl, and some can’t actually fertilize an egg. But all of them are awesome products of evolution. That’s why I want to start a collection of posts dedicated to quirky sperm. For the first post, a relatively recent paper (about a year … Continue reading

Sperm tracked in 3D

Sperm tracked in 3D

Despite referring to sperm as “sperms”, this paper showing 3D tracking of human sperm swimming paths is pretty cool. Actually, I take that back. Calling them sperms definitely adds to the awesomeness. I won’t pretend to fully understand the physics behind their method, but it’s obvious that this imaging method will be important for many … Continue reading

Male contraception: a new advance

Male contraception: a new advance

Good news, guys: one day soon you may not have to worry about whether your girlfriend remembered to take her pill. The bad news? You might actually have to be the one who remembers to take it. A group of researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and … Continue reading

Glucose ramps up sperm speed

Glucose ramps up sperm speed

The sperm of mice and men are streamlined cells, designed to move fast and deliver a payload. To maintain their Phelps-like speed through the long haul to the egg, sperm cells need energy. But even though sperm have all the equipment they need to turn fuel into energy, they don’t carry any fuel with them. … Continue reading

Use it or lose it

Use it or lose it

Female frogs (Xenopus laevis) release their eggs out into the water, where they wait for some lucky sperm to come along and fertilize them. But they don’t wait very long. Frog eggs are ticking time bombs that self-destruct after only a few hours if not fertilized. Previously, how this happened was a mystery. Now, new … Continue reading

Get in my spermathecae!

Get in my spermathecae!

You may notice that this paper has been out for a while already, even though I really should have been excited to blog about it right away, given its importance for my field of study. But, lately, research has kept me too busy to actually sit down and write a decent post about it. So, … Continue reading

Wolbachia gives eggs a boost

Wolbachia gives eggs a boost

Wolbachia are a type of bacteria that live inside the cells of many animals, but mostly insects. They are passed on from mother to child through the mother’s eggs. They can often be bad for the insect host: they might kill all male offspring, destroy the host’s gonads, or make it harder for the host … Continue reading