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Fluids Seminar, 28 October 2009

BIOPHYSICAL PROPERTIES OF SPERM MOTILITY

Dr. David Smith (Schools of Mathematics and Medicine, University of Birmingham)

Sperm swimming is fundamental to reproduction and deficiencies are the principal cause of the growing problem of male-factor infertility. The sperm of marine species such as sea urchin have proved 'seminal' in very low Reynolds number fluid mechanics, however there is only a limited amount of understanding of the swimming of mammalian and human sperm through the female reproductive tract. This is partly due to the challenges of understanding and modelling the biophysical properties of the in vivo system. We present a mixture of experimental results and theoretical analysis quantifying some of the physical properties of human sperm swimming, then go on to discuss how these techniques may help to understand more difficult problems such as the migration and guidance of sperm populations towards the egg.