New York, Feb 4 IANS | 10 months ago

Condoms with great smells yes but sperms with sense of smell?

It looks like going too far. But not actually.

Researchers have discovered that the sperms of the malaria-carrying mosquito named Aedes aegypti is indeed equipped with odour-detecting molecules.

Mosquitoes use scent-detecting molecules known as odourant receptors in their antennae.
These sensors then help mosquitoes 'sniff out' sources of blood as part of their sense of smell, technically known as olfaction.

"These mosquitoes have the same molecules in their sperm - and this could help scientists develop new methods to control disease-carrying mosquitoes and even harmful insects," said researchers from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, US.

What does these molecules do to sperms?

The odourant receptors on the whip-like tails of the sperm actually help control the movement of the sperm.

"We know that these molecules are very powerful tools for responding to chemical signals from the environment. Our work shows these molecules can also be co-opted to respond to chemicals inside the organism," Laurence Zwiebel, a molecular biologist at Vanderbilt University, was quoted as saying.

"The sperm may need a chemical signal to become ready for fertilisation. We believe that odourant receptors may be the sensor that receives these signals," said Jason Pitts, a researcher at Vanderbilt University.

These molecules help bring sperm and eggs together in insects, noted the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

(Posted on 04-02-2014)

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