Hydrodynamic propulsion of human sperm

Gillies, E.A., Cannon, R.M., Green, R.B. and Pacey, A.A. (2009) Hydrodynamic propulsion of human sperm. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 625, pp. 445-474. (doi:10.1017/S0022112008005685)

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Abstract

The detailed fluid mechanics of sperm propulsion are fundamental to our understanding of reproduction. In this paper, we aim to model a human sperm swimming in a microscope slide chamber. We model the sperm itself by a distribution of regularized stokeslets over an ellipsoidal sperm head and along an infinitesimally thin flagellum. The slide chamber walls are modelled as parallel plates, also discretized by a distribution of regularized stokeslets. The sperm flagellar motion, used in our model, is obtained by digital microscopy of human sperm swimming in slide chambers. We compare the results of our simulation with previous numerical studies of flagellar propulsion, and compare our computations of sperm kinematics with those of the actual sperm measured by digital microscopy. We find that there is an excellent quantitative match of transverse and angular velocities between our simulations and experimental measurements of sperm. We also find a good qualitative match of longitudinal velocities and computed tracks with those measured in our experiment. Our computations of average sperm power consumption fall within the range obtained by other authors. We use the hydrodynamic model, and a prototype flagellar motion derived from experiment, as a predictive tool, and investigate how sperm kinematics are affected by changes to head morphology, as human sperm have large variability in head size and shape. Results are shown which indicate the increase in predicted straight-line velocity of the sperm as the head width is reduced and the increase in lateral movement as the head length is reduced. Predicted power consumption, however, shows a minimum close to the normal head aspect ratio.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Green, Dr Richard and Gillies, Dr Eric
Authors: Gillies, E.A., Cannon, R.M., Green, R.B., and Pacey, A.A.
Subjects:T Technology > T Technology (General)
Q Science > QA Mathematics
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Aerospace Sciences
Research Group:Fluid Dynamics
Journal Name:Journal of Fluid Mechanics
Journal Abbr.:J. Fluid Mech.
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:0022-1120
ISSN (Online):1469-7645
Published Online:14 April 2009
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2009 Cambridge University Press
First Published:First published in Journal of Fluid Mechanics 625:445-474
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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