The tail movement of bull spermatozoa. Observations and model calculations

Biophys J. 1965 Jul;5(4):365-92. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(65)86723-6.


Detailed observations of the tail movement of non-rotating and rotating bull spermatozoa have been carried out. For rotating sperm a helical tail wave was found with a ratio of the amplitudes of the two perpendicular components of approximately 3 to 1. For both types of cells the variation of the amplitude and the phase shift of the wave as it travels from the proximal to the distal part are reported. Model calculations indicate that the stiffness of the tail originates in the fibrous sheath, which has a Young's modulus of 3 x 10(7) dynes/cm(2). Active contractile elements distributed continuously along the tail are found necessary to maintain the amplitude of the tail wave against damping by the fluid drag. If the longitudinal fibers are identified with the contractile elements the maximum tension to be developed by these fibers is 4 x 10(6) dynes/cm(2). The energy dissipated by the "active" part of the tail wave is at least approximately 70 percent of the total dissipation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Biophysics
  • Cattle
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Mathematics
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Spermatozoa / cytology*