Sniff and swim — ovary scent draws sperm cells

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Phase contrast images of a sperm cell moving
in response to the extract gradient.
Credit: Stephen C. Jacobson

“Mice are known to have a keen sense of smell, but it’s not just their noses that are adept at picking up a scent, a new study shows… Scientists at Indiana University Bloomington report biochemical machinery that allows mouse sperm cells to follow the weakest of scents. Even when ovary extracts were diluted 100,000 times, some sperm cells still found their mark.”

Understanding why, how and when sperm are attracted to ovaries may help scientists understand problems with human conception.

    “Defects in sperm chemotaxis may be a cause of infertility, and consequently, sperm chemotaxis could potentially be used as a diagnostic tool to determine sperm quality or as a therapeutic procedure in male infertility.” – Stephen C. Jacobson, Indiana University Bloomington.

I was going to make a flippant remark about the excellent egg-sniffing abilities of the sperm of teenage boys… but I decided against it.