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Primate sperm competition: speed matters
Date:9/25/2007

aser light: when the path of laser light bends as it passes through a small transparent object such as a cell, some of the lights momentum is transferred to the cell, effectively holding, or trapping it. The brighter the laser, the more firmly the cell is held.

After attending a talk at the Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES) at the San Diego Zoo about the theory that faster sperm could have an advantage in the reproductive success of polygamous primates, Berns modified his laser tweezers so that after a cell was trapped, the light intensity could be reduced in a precise manner. Such a timed decay in laser brightness allows a trapped sperm cell to escape at the point at which its swimming force exceeds the trapping force. The adjustable laser tweezers and sperm-tracking software allowed the team led by Berns and Nascimento to precisely and accurately measure swimming force and speed of hundreds of individual sperm cells from males of the four primate species.

While biologists have been interested in this sperm competition question for years, it required the collaboration of biologists, physicists and engineers to design the right equipment to test the theory, said Berns.


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Contact: Rex Graham
ragraham@ucsd.edu
858-822-3075
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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