Chemotaxis of Animal Spermatozoa

  • R. L. Miller


Although the gametes of most animals are presumed to meet by chance, several mechanisms exist which serve to enhance the chances of contact.
  1. 1.

    The size of one gamete (egg) is increased as a target.

  2. 2.

    The other gamete (sperm) remains small and is usually highly motile, showing a persistence of direction. For any population, direction is random, however.

The mobility of the gametes, especially the sperm, may be modified in several ways to increase the probability of collision with the egg. All produce undirected behavior in the sperm.
  1. 1.

    “Thigmotaxis” or the tendency of the sperm to swim near surfaces.

  2. 2.

    Agglutination by egg associated substances.

  3. 3.

    Chemically decreasing motility.

  4. 4.

    Physically decreasing motility.

  5. 5.

    Production of aberrant motility.

Mechanism of direct guidance of sperm to eggs include:
  1. 1.

    Oriented egg coatings or micropyles.

  2. 2.



Directed sperm migration by means of a chemical gradient has been demonstrated in a number of marine hydroides. The sperm behavior during chemotaxis is compared to sperm behavior during undirected responses.


Chemical Gradient Stimulus Source Sperm Swimming Sperm Chemotaxis Gradient Source 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Company Ltd. 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. L. Miller
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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