Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Researchers at the University of Oxford have discovered that male fruit flies adjust their seminal fluid depending on the levels of competition from other males.

When more rivals are around, they create and add extra protein to their seminal fluid making it extra potent. This boosts the number of offspring their partners produce, but the extra effort comes at a cost: it tires the male out and makes him sluggish to remate.

It previously wasn’t known if sperm and seminal fluid could be changed independent of each other, but this research shows that it can.

Humans also transfer both sperm and seminal fluid during ejaculation and this finding could suggest a new understanding of factors affecting fertility. It may also suggest novel treatment avenues for the current male ‘fertility crisis’, evidenced by human sperm counts declining steeply over the past 40 years.

The researchers’ data, published today in PNAS, suggest that male fruit flies use different rules for changing different parts of semen. If exposed to one or many rivals the researchers observed increases in sperm transfer compared to zero rivals. However, with seminal protein they observed increases in protein transfer in the presence of many compared to one or zero.

Read more (University of Oxford website)

Similar stories

Five ways the pandemic has affected routine medical care

Since the beginning of the pandemic, COVID has infected at least a third of the UK population and is estimated to have factored in the deaths of almost 200,000 people in the UK. But critically, COVID has also had a devastating impact on our healthcare systems. While this was expected, new evidence is beginning to reveal the scope of the issue – in particular the effects for people living with long-term health conditions.

Clinical trials for a malaria vaccine start in Mali and Indonesia

Sanaria Inc. announced that two new Phase 2 trials of its pioneering malaria vaccines have started. The first is in 6- to 10-year-old children living in Bancoumana, Mali, a malarious region of West Africa. The second is in Indonesian soldiers based in Sumatra, Indonesia. The soldiers will be deploying for six to nine months this coming August to an intensely malarious district in eastern Indonesia.

Mechanism of expanding bacteria revealed

A new study published in Nature has identified a potential Achilles heel in the protective layers surrounding Gram-negative bacteria that could aid in the development of next-generation antibiotics.

Oxford to receive £7 million to turn bright ideas into global opportunities

The University of Oxford has been awarded more than £7 million, the highest amount of funding given to organisations across the UK, in the latest round of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) funding - aimed at fueling the best, brightest and most disruptive ideas from Uk research institutions.

Discovery of gene involved in chronic pain creates new treatment target

Oxford researchers have discovered a gene that regulates pain sensitisation by amplifying pain signals within the spinal cord, helping them to understand an important mechanism underlying chronic pain in humans and providing a new treatment target.

Oxford's largest ever study into Varicose veins shows need for surgery is linked to genetics

A new international study by Oxford researchers published in Nature Communications establishes for the first time, a critical genetic risk score to predict the likelihood of patients suffering with Varicose veins to require surgery, as well as pointing the way towards potential new therapies.