Too much sperm may kill the queen

Jun 16, 2006

Researchers at CSE (Centre for Social Evolution) at the Institute of Biology, University of Copenhagen have studied the sperm-quality among ants.

An ant queen only has sex once in her lifetime, and at this occasion she needs enough semen to last her lifetime. She mates with several males who all die from exhaustion afterwards, whereas the queen can live on for decades. The queen will then continuingly fertilize the millions of eggs she needs to lay in order to build the enormous ant colony.

The more sperm the queen has, the longer she can keep laying eggs. However, the queen does not store as great an amount of semen as she has capacity to. The CSE researchers have discovered that too much sperm will put the queen at risk of dying from deceases. Possibly because she spends a lot of energy keeping the sperm alive, which means less energy to her immune response. The number of males that contribute to her sperm stock also affects her risk of dying. The more males, the greater the risk of dying – possibly because the mating requires a lot of energy which will make her immune response vulnerable.

CSE continues the research, specifically orientated towards unveiling the secret behind the incredible quality of ant-semen that makes it possible for the sperms to live for years within the queen. The researchers hope to find results that can be important for infertility-research among humans.

Source: University of Copenhagen

Explore further: How an RNA gene silences a whole chromosome

Related Stories

A battle for ant sperm

Oct 28, 2014

And you thought the sexual battles between people could get weird and fierce? Try ants. In a new study, biologists at the University of Vermont have discovered some queen ants that make sexual bondage into ...

Researchers sequence genome of primitive termite

May 20, 2014

North Carolina State University entomologists are part of a research team that has for the first time sequenced the genome of a member of the termite order, the dampwood termite (Zootermopsis nevadensis). A pape ...

Recommended for you

Silicon: An important element in rice production

52 minutes ago

Silicon (Si) is the second most abundant element of the earth's crust after oxygen. It has long been neglected by ecologists, as it is not considered an essential nutrient for plants. However, research of ...

New blueberry species found in the Colombian forests

1 hour ago

The description of five new species of blueberry relatives from Colombia highlights the country's great diversity of the plant family Ericaceae and the importance of field exploration. These new mortiños, as loc ...

A CRISPR antiviral tool

1 hour ago

Emory scientists have adapted an antiviral enzyme from bacteria called Cas9 into an instrument for inhibiting hepatitis C virus in human cells.

Researchers find proteins responsible for orchid shape

2 hours ago

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with National Chung Hsing University in China has found the proteins responsible for determining the shape of orchid lips. In their paper published in the journal Nature Pl ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.