Zebra finch supergene and sperm

We’ve just published a paper on the genetics of sperm morphology and motility in zebra finches. This was the culmination of 4 years work, mostly carried out by Kang-Wook Kim, where we investigated the genetic architecture and gene expression of sperm traits, and we were amazed when it turned out that an inversion polymorphism explained most of the heritable variation. Perhaps we shouldn’t have been so surprised, given the recent burst of cool papers showing how inversions can cause complex phenotypes e.g. in fireants, ruffs (here and here), monkeyflowers, Heliconius butterflies, etc.

Anyway, the journal where we published the work has a rather nice ‘Behind the Paper’ feature, where I go into a bit of background about how the work came about, and what it shows. Rather than repeat it verbatim,  the link to the Blog is here.

A video showing how different the sperm with different inversion polymorphism ‘genotypes’ can be seen below. Note how fast and straight the AB sperm are (you might need to loop the video).





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