More than 300 years ago, sperms were believed to swim like wiggling eels, splashing their tails to and fro while seeking an egg to fertilize. This belief of 300 years has now been shattered with researchers from Bristol and Mexico claiming that the sperms do not swim in this way but move in a rollicking spin and their tails beating only to one side.
The hundred years after, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek used one of the earliest microscopes to go through sperm and described it saying that its tail had the movement like that of a snake, just like eels in water. But now a 3 D microscopy has proved it to be wrong, describing the sperm tail to be moving only to one side.
The research was led by Dr. Hermes Gadelha from the University of Bristol, Dr. Gabriel Corkidi and Dr. Alberto Darszon from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.
The researchers used the high speed camera that was capable of recording over 55,000 frames in one second. They also used a piezoelectric device to move the sample up and down at an incredibly high rate. All these helped them to scan the sperm swimming freely in 3 D.
Gadêlha compared the movement of the sperm top a swimmer who would wiggle the leg to one side. The researcher said this if this type of movement was done, then one could only move in circles.
The synchronized spinning of the sperm caused an illusion when seen from above with a 2 D microscope. The tail appeared to have a side to side symmetric movement, which was like the movement of eels in water, the researchers said.
The researchers believed that their findings would help in infertility treatment. It would help in the clear understanding of the sperm and also its healthy aspect. It would also help in identifying the healthy sperms from the unhealthy ones, which goes a long way in the treatment of infertility.