Sperm-egg matchmaker "Bouncer" may drive fish evolution

In order to fertilise an egg, sperm needs to be compatible with it. A few years ago, scientists from the lab of Andrea Pauli at the IMP discovered that the membrane protein Bouncer prevents cross-fertilisation between different species of fish. Building on this, they now show that Bouncer has molecular characteristics that diverge across different fish species – hinting at a role it could play in driving evolution.

7 beige-coloured spheres sit next to each other. Three look full and hairy, four have empty space and a blob in the center.
Eggs from zebrafish (smaller) and medaka (larger) cannot be fertilised by each other’s sperm due to specific differences in their Bouncer proteins.

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