ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Butterfly sperm explained

New research has proposed a genetic explanation for the evolution of a bizarre method used by male butterflies to ensure the success of their sperm. Image: Flickr/linkurl:Dave-F;http://www.flickr.com/photos/frield/952293034/ The sperm of male butterflies has a strange property. About 90% of it is non-fertile -- essentially filler for the females' sperm storage organs that tricks females into thinking they have all the sperm they need to fertilize their eggs. The males' ploy reduces the likeliho

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

View full profile.


Learn about our editorial policies.

New research has proposed a genetic explanation for the evolution of a bizarre method used by male butterflies to ensure the success of their sperm.
Image: Flickr/linkurl:Dave-F;http://www.flickr.com/photos/frield/952293034/
The sperm of male butterflies has a strange property. About 90% of it is non-fertile -- essentially filler for the females' sperm storage organs that tricks females into thinking they have all the sperm they need to fertilize their eggs. The males' ploy reduces the likelihood that their mates will take another suitor, thereby ensuring their own paternity. A study published online today (July 29) in Biology Letters suggests that an intense battle of the sexes drove the evolution of non-fertile sperm. "This study is an elegant and important advance in the understanding of this fascinating male:female co-evolution," evolutionary biologist linkurl:Matthew Gage;http://biobis.bio.uea.ac.uk/biosql/fac_show.aspx?ID=259 of University of East Anglia in England, who was not involved in the research, wrote in an email to The Scientist...




Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?
ADVERTISEMENT