Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ants, Sperms, Chemical Warfare!

Science blogging at its best. You've got to read Ed Yong's post summarizing a fascinating piece of research into (anti)competitive tactics of sperms. Here's the hook:

One night of passion and you're filled with a lifetime full of sperm with no need to ever mate again. As sex lives go, it doesn't sound very appealing, but it's what many ants, bees, wasps and termites experience. The queens of these social insects mate in a single "nuptial flight" that lasts for a few hours or days. They store the sperm from their suitors and use it to slowly fertilise their eggs over the rest of their lives. Males have this one and only shot at joining the Mile High Club and they compete fiercely for their chance to inseminate the queen. But even for the victors, the war isn't over. Inside the queen's body, their sperm continue the battle.

In the comments section, Yong receives this praise from the author of the research paper:

Hi Ed,

I found your blog online. I just wanted to say that I am really happy to see that you thought our paper was nice enough to write a piece about. You are clearly a talented writer, I think the way you wrote about our research is perfect, you got all the facts right and it is written in a very clear way.

It's awesome, thanks so much!
Best Wishes, Susanne den Boer

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Update: Edited to change the link to the current location of Yong's blog at The old link -- at is here.