Sperm frozen in space


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Frozen sperm in space implanted produce healthy pops.

Researchers led by Teruhiko Wakayama, a biologist at the University of Yamanashi in Kofu, Japan, sent freeze-dried sperm from 12 mice to the ISS in 2013. Astronauts placed the samples in a freezer at –95°C, where they remained for 288 days. On Earth, the team stored sperm from the same mice at the same temperature for the same amount of time.

When the space-faring samples were returned to Earth, Wakayama and his colleagues looked for signs of DNA damage caused by radiation. As expected, the ISS sperm exposed to the higher levels of space radiation near the station exhibited more fragmented DNA than the Earth-bound sperm. This DNA damage, which would have been impossible for the frozen cells to repair, has been associated with lower levels of fertility. But when the scientists injected the space sperm into fresh mouse eggs that they transferred into surrogate mothers, they were in for a surprise. Roughly 3 weeks later, the females gave birth to 73 “space pups,” about as many as they would have expected from normal sperm, the team reported today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That’s the first time such an experiment has been done for any mammalian species, Wakayama says.
A spherical or simple radial molecular design for the basis of life would not have been as rad hard. So, evolution works even at the molecular level. It has to. Anthropic principle and all that.

But to be fair, sexual reproduction is also quite adept at correcting minor flaws that might otherwise be lethal. Another evolutionary master stroke that probably can't be characterized as underappreciated, other than in certain communities for which reproduction is not a high priority.