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The fact that humans, of varied ages, are capable of doing the “Teach me how to Doggie” and “Oppa Gangnam Style” movements, it is rather unsurprising for us to know that as early as when we were one of the spermatozoa racing for the mighty egg cell, we were already doing amusing and sometimes inexplicable movements.




Yes. Just like the specific movements in the “Oppa Gangnam Style, sperms do have their own swimming strokes, too.


A recent study of UCLA scholars Ting-Wei Sua, Liang Xuea and Aydogan Ozcan which was published yesterday through the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences “developed an imaging technique that allows three-dimensional tracking of the movements of 1,500 human sperm at one time”, the Los Angeles Times (LAT) reported.


LAT added that the said researchers discovered that sperm swim in roughly four different ways.


“The first, and by far the most common, is what you might expect — a head-forward dash, presumably toward an egg. The second is far stranger. At any given time, about 4% or 5% of sperm are swimming in curved, helical tracks, as if they were moving along an invisible slinky. A smaller percentage seemed to move about willy-nilly, and an even smaller percentage appeared to combine willy-nilly motion with the helical slinky movements of the second group”, it said.


The LAT added that “the researchers used the new technique to watch sperm move over time.. (and found out) that each sperm doesn’t just use one of these motions all the time. Instead, sperm switch from one movement to another”.


In the research Abstract, the authors stated that the “Dynamic tracking of human sperms across a large volume is a challenging task. To provide a high-throughput solution to this important need, here we describe a lensfree on-chip imaging technique that can track the three-dimensional (3D) trajectories of > 1,500 individual human sperms within an observation volume of approximately 8–17 mm3”.


Moreover, the researchers said that their “computational imaging platform relies on holographic lensfree shadows of sperms that are simultaneously acquired at two different wavelengths, emanating from two partially-coherent sources that are placed at 45° with respect to each other. This multiangle and multicolor illumination scheme permits us to dynamically track the 3D motion of human sperms across a field-of-view of > 17 mm2 and depth-of-field of approximately 0.5–1 mm with submicron positioning accuracy. The large statistics provided by this lensfree imaging platform revealed that only approximately 4–5% of the motile human sperms swim along well-defined helices and that this percentage can be significantly suppressed under seminal plasma”.


“Furthermore, among these observed helical human sperms, a significant majority (approximately 90%) preferred right-handed helices over left-handed ones, with a helix radius of approximately 0.5–3 μm, a helical rotation speed of approximately 3–20 rotations/s and a linear speed of approximately 20–100 μm/s. This high-throughput 3D imaging platform could in general be quite valuable for observing the statistical swimming patterns of various other microorganisms, leading to new insights in their 3D motion and the underlying biophysics”, it added.


Now, is not that amazing? Sperms do Gangnam too! Let’s do the “Oppa Gangnam Style”!