Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Sniff your way to success

What drives human sperm wild?

The smell of lily of the valley.
It appears sperm have “noses” which they use to navigate toward a woman’s egg. Researchers experimented with a range of floral fragrances and lily of the valley came out on top, getting the random sperm wriggling in the same direction at twice the normal speed.

The research was carried out at Ruhr University in Germany in 2003. They discovered a new sperm protein, hOR17-4, which acted as a receptor for sperm in exactly the same way as protein sensors in the nose detect smells. They then tested their new sperm “nose” on hundreds of synthetic compounds, many of them used to mimic floral scents in commercial perfumes.

One of these, bourgeonal, is used to create the lily of the valley fragrance. It had two dramatic effects on the behavior of sperm: doubling its speed and changing undirected swimming behavior to direct movement. The “foot-to-the-floor” effect seems to derive from hOR17-4 making the sperm wag their “tails” harder.

I just could not resist passing this bit of data along to you. ☺

17 comments:

Kaycie said...

That is interesting, Lady M. There will be no lily of the valley anywhere near me now. I'm done having babies!

jams o donnell said...

I daresay there will be an application to this research. Seriously though, it is quite fascinating

Ian Lidster said...

Just one of those factoids that a person should be aware of -- I guess. But, I must remember to avoid lily of the valley because I don't want my sperm going places they shouldn't as I honestly don't feel like doing any siring. The process yes, just not unwelcome after effects.

Ellee Seymour said...

How on earth do scientists discover tis kind of info? It almost puts me off lily of the valley.

Sparx said...

Oh, I love this. Firstly, I am going to have to invest in some of Yardley's finest in case the frog ever changes his mind on the topic of Spud, The Sequel.

Mainly, however, I have had a bit of a childish snigger over the fact that a compound whose name starts with the word 'Hor' and which is used in cheap perfume can get those wrigglers moving!

dulwichmum said...

Darling Lady M!

OHMYGOD!!! My teacher in primary school wore Lily of the Valley perfume, and now I have this dreadful image of her in my head, covered from head to toe in... OHMYGOD! I shall go and lie down.

jmb said...

How do they come up with these ideas to pursue? I'll bet they were surprised at the results.
Thanks for sharing this fascinating piece of research Lady Mac.

lady macleod said...

kaycle

Best to use Chanel No.5 eh? seduction without the consequences...

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

jams

At the end of the article there was mention that it is being used in fertility research.

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

ian

I'm sure you can remain in control sir; but just in case - sniff first eh?

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

ellee

You know those scientists-guys, anything for a grant. Seriously it is being used in infertility studies now, so that is a good thing.

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

sparx

Stock up babe! More good stories on the way, I can feel it.

Look at you, spotting the sneaky-funny! I didn't even catch that at all. he he Well done there.

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

dulwichmum

When I grow up I want to be as funny as you! LOL

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

jmb

Living with the scientist-guy you should know - anything for a grant eh?

thank you for coming by.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Well, well, well... And lily of the valley look so innocent!

Iota said...

How does one get ones eggs to smell of lily of the valley? Or can you just put it on your wrists, and hope that it infuses through your bloodstream? The mind boggles.

Sparx said...

My lady - unfortunately half of my mind resides permanently in the gutter. Not quite sure how that happened but it manages to find innuendo in the most unlikely places...