Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Learning from Sperm
08 January 2012

Learning from Sperm

One doesn’t normally think of flies as being highly sexually potent. However, fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster produces a single 5cm long sperm (20 times longer than his body), which is passed to the female along with a cocktail of chemicals that render her more compliant. Flies are attractive research models because of their giant chromosomes, cells, sperm and very well documented genome. Stem cells are here pictured at the centre of the fly testis surrounded by germline cells (shown in purple) that can become sperm. Researchers are keen to explore how these two kinds of cells communicate to keep up a continuous production of sperm. In this way, they also hope to understand how new tissues regenerate, which has important medical implications for humans.

Written by Brona McVittie

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