Monday, January 25, 2010

Promiscuous mice and cooperative sperm

Some mouse sperm can discriminate between its brethren and competing sperm from other males, clustering with its closest relatives to swim faster in the race to the egg. But this sort of cooperation appears to be present only in certain promiscuous species, where it affords an individual's sperm a competitive advantage over that of other males. This ability of sperm to discriminate between related and unrelated sperm is not seen in monogamous species, in which sperm of different males are unlikely to ever interact. The results suggest that competition among males drives cooperative behavior among their sperm.

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