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Sparks 'fly' when egg and sperm cells meet

19 December 2014, 10:00 Tamar Cloete

Nairobi - When meeting your 'match', the saying goes; "there were fireworks..." or "when we kissed, I saw fireworks" and so it goes, but little did we know that when a male and female conceive; the egg and sperm cell that find one another lights up as if fireworks are sparking.

According to an article on Huffington Post, scientists observed the sparks and found out where they came from.

The egg first stockpiles zinc and then must release some of the zinc to successfully navigate maturation, fertilization and the start of embryogenesis, says professor of chemistry and molecular biosciences, Dr. Thomas V. O'Halloran.

The researchers used a set of new imagining techniques to count and map the positions of individual zinc atoms in the mouse eggs, for the study.

8, 000 tiny compartments called vesicles are inside every egg and each one contains about one million zinc atoms.

The compartments release their contents simultaneously when the egg is fertilized, causing the sparks to 'fly'.

Also read: Swallowing sperm has benefits

The professor also then mentions that it's beautiful to see, its orchestrated much like a symphony. They knew zinc was released by the egg in huge amounts, but they didn't know how the egg did that.

Teresa K. Woodruff, an expert in ovarian biology and one of two corresponding authors of the study says the amount of zinc released by an egg could be a great marker for identifying a high-quality fertilized egg, something that they cant do now. If they are able to do that, fewer embryos would need to be transferred during fertility treatments.

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- Parent24


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