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

New form of gift wrap drives male reproductive success

General Research

A study from the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG) has identified a new communication mechanism that ensures the transfer of a complex mix of signals and nutrients required for successful reproduction between males and females.

PRINCIPLE trial finds antibiotics azithromycin and doxycycline not generally effective treatments for COVID-19

Coronavirus COVID-19 General Research

In March 2020, the UK-wide Platform Randomised trial of INterventions against COVID-19 In older people (PRINCIPLE) trial was established as a flexible, platform randomised clinical trial to test a range of potential treatments for COVID-19 that might be suitable for use in the community to help people recover more quickly and prevent the need for hospital admission. The trial is one of three national platform trials for COVID-19 treatments, and complements the RECOVERY and REMAP-CAP trials that focus on hospitalised patients.

Early animal studies yield promising results for new potential COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus COVID-19 General Research

Studies carried out in the MRC Human Immunology Unit (MRC HIU) in collaboration with the Pirbright Institute have shown that a new potential vaccine against COVID-19, named RBD-SpyVLP, produces a strong antibody response in mice and pigs, providing vital information for the further development of the vaccine. Although this type of vaccine is not a competitor for the first wave of vaccines, it is hoped that it will be useful as a standalone vaccine or as a booster for individuals primed with a different COVID-19 vaccine.

Just over half of British Indians would take COVID vaccine

Coronavirus COVID-19 General Research

University of Oxford researchers from the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG) and the Department of Psychiatry, in collaboration with The 1928 Institute, have published a major new study on the impact of COVID-19 on the UK’s largest BME population.

Investigating New Treatment for Schizophrenia

General Innovation Research

A partnership between University of Oxford, the Earlham Institute, and the global pharmaceutical companies Biogen Inc and Boehringer Ingelheim is announced today to investigate a new drug target for the treatment of schizophrenia.