Eggs of Mussels Attract Compatible Sperm by Releasing Chemicals

Mussel sperm have to find the right egg. This is not as easy as it seems. When the eggs are released they can be scattered through ocean water or river. While mussels are attached to rocks, eggs and sperm are at the mercy of the elements. The eggs have to let sperm know that the eggs are available, so they send out a chemical message to attract suitable sperm.

Many species release chemical signals. The message sent has to be differentiated to prevent fertilization by siblings. A test was done forcing sperm to fertilize chosen eggs. Only compatible matches gave healthy offspring. In a later test mussel sperm were observed to choose compatible eggs to produce health young.

This is the first time chemical attraction has been observed in mussels. It shows how important compatibility is in many species. This brings into question the theory of gene pools where there is deemed to be no barrier to gene pairing. The idea that any male and female can have offspring no longer stands. Even human eggs send out chemical signals to attract compatible sperm. Some human couples cannot have children even when tests show they are perfectly healthy. Fertilization can occur with a different partner.
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