Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Molecular Biology

Reader 1

Lisa Petrella

Reader 2

Kyle Jay


Sexual reproduction has a conserved flaw in that it is temperature sensitive. Exposure to high temperature leads to male infertility, but little is known about the underlying mechanism. Understanding these mechanisms is important for agriculture and reproductive medicine. Using C. elegans, we investigated two potential aspects of male fertility that may be affected by high temperature conditions: activation of sperm by seminal fluid and sperm mitochondrial activity. There are two pathways for sperm activation in C. elegans: the SPE-8 pathway in hermaphrodites and the TRY-5 pathway in male seminal fluid. Hermaphrodite sperm with a mutation in spe-8 can still be activated by TRY-5 in male seminal fluid, a process called transactivation. Preliminary data indicated that the function of the TRY-5 transactivation pathway was significantly reduced when males were exposed to high temperature. Second, we investigated if high temperature affects the abundance of sperm mitochondria. We observed a significant change in fluorescence intensity reflecting functioning mitochondria when sperm were exposed to 27°C. Our data suggest that both of our tested mechanisms may contribute to male infertility at high temperature.