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Schärer Group
Evolutionary Biology
Zoological Institute
University of Basel
Vesalgasse 1
CH-4051 Basel

Press & Outreach

Coverage of 'Hypodermic self-insemination as a reproductive assurance strategy'
(see #50 here for a PDF of the article)

Our 2015 Proceedings of the Royal Society B article on the mechanism of self-fertilization in Macrostomum hystrix received very broad international media coverage, including print media, online news portals, blogs, social media, and also a local TV station. Here is a selection:
Lonely flatworms inject sperm into their own heads in the SCIENCESHOT column of Science AAAS (unfortunately depicting Macrostomum evelinae rather than Macrostomum hystrix)
Flatworm can self-fertilize by stabbing itself in the head in the ScienceTicker section of ScienceNews
Aquatic Worm Species Can Inject Its Own Head With Sperm To Reproduce in the Science section of the Huffington Post
Flatworm uses 'hypodermic penis' to inject sperm into own head in the Science section of the Guardian
Flatworm Reproduces by Using its Penis to Inject Sperm Into its Head on I F*cking Love Science (generating >80k FaceBook likes in <1 week)
What Idiot Designed a Worm That Injects Sperm Into Its Own Head? on the blog of Rosa Rubicondior
El Macrostomum Hystrix (in Spanish) from a wacky YouTube channel by Rodolfo Ignacio Camposeco Torres (madness)
Plattwurm schießt sich Spermien in den Kopf ('flatworm shoots sperm into its head') in Bild der Wissenschaft

Plattwurm spritzt sich eigenes Sperma in den Kopf ('flatworm injects own sperm into the head') in die Welt
Plattwürmer mit Sperma im Kopf ('flatworms with sperm in their heads') in the daily news show 7vor7 on Telebasel, a local TV channel (video)

Krieg der Spermien
(the war of the sperm)

This is a radio interview with the German radio station SWR2 (broadcast in October 2014 as part of the daily science program 'Impuls'). The interview resulted from the publication of a 'New Research Horizon Review' collection of articles (published in the journal 'Molecular Human Reproduction' and guest edited by my former postdoc Steve Ramm, now a PI at the University of Bielefeld) on the topic of 'Sperm competition and the evolution of reproductive systems'.

(The Elementary Particles)

As part of a theatre production of Michel Houellebecq's book 'The Elementary Particles' at the Theater Freiburg (D) director Christoph Frick involved me as an expert on reproductive biology, a key theme of Houellebecq's book. This led to me giving a 'biology lesson' to the cast and production crew, and culminated in a delightful scence where the cast play sex changing reef fishes (it was delightful to see the subject of my diploma thesis acted out on stage). Several stage photos of the play can be found in the production booklet, as can a summary of the 'biology lesson' (pdf).

Coverage of 'Mating behavior and the evolution of sperm design'
(see #34 here for a PDF of the article)

Our 2011 PNAS article on the evolution of sperm design in Macrostomum has received quite a wide international coverage, both in print news, online news portals and blogs. Here is a selection of the ones we either liked best or found most notorious:
X-rated worm movies reveal sex secrets in Nature News by Amy Maxmen (pdf)
The many styles of sperm in Nature Research Highlights (pdf)
Das bizarre Paarungsverhalten der Zwitterwürmer ('the bizarre mating behavior of the hermaphroditic worms') on Spiegel Online by Kurt de Swaaf (pdf) (video)
The sexual battles of flatworms: barbed sperm, mating rings, traumatic insemination, and going down on yourself in the Not Exactly Rocket Science blog by Ed Yong
'Worm Porn' Sheds Light on Evolution of Sperm in the Live Science news portal by Wynne Parry
Eine Frage, Herr Doktor: Was lernen wir vom Sex der Plattwürmer? ('one question, doctor: what can we learn from flatworm sex?') (pdf)
in the Swiss tabloid Blick by Kathia Baltisberger
Worm sex and spiky sperm in the It takes 30 blog of the Department of Systems Biology @ Harvard Medical School

Geschlechterkampf im Kleinformat
(gender war en miniature)
An article by Kurt de Swaaf on our work on sex allocation and sexual conflicts in Macrostomum lignano. It appeared in late 2009 in the Basler Zeitung, the major local newspaper of the region, with pointers on the front cover and the cover of the section (pdf).

Wie die Geschlechter entstanden sind
(on the origin of gender)
An article by Lukas Schärer in a special Darwin-year issue of UNI NOVA, the science journal of the University of Basel (pdf of article and pdf of entire special issue).

Zwitter im Zwiespalt
(hermaphrodites in discord)
An article by Reto Caluori on our work on reproduction and sexual conflicts in Macrostomum lignano. It appeared in late 2007 in UNI NOVA, the science journal of the University of Basel (pdf).

Der Zwittersex-Forscher
(the hermaphrodite sex researcher)
An short television feature that was broadcast in mid 2007 by the Swiss channel SF1 in the science program Einstein on our work on reproductive behaviour and sexual conflicts in Macrostomum lignano (video).

Das Sexualverhalten von Zwittern
(the reproductive behaviour of hermaphrodites)
An article by Georg Breuer on our work on reproductive behaviour and sexual conflicts in Macrostomum. It appeared in early 2005 in the German Science Journal Naturwissenschaftliche Rundschau (pdf).

Auch Zwitter führen erbitterten Geschlechterkampf
(hermaphrodites have fierce gender conflicts too)
An article by Susanne Strnadl on our work on gender conflicts in hermaphrodites. It appeared in December 2004 in the section 'Wissenschaft Spezial' (science special) in the weeked supplement 'Album' of the Austrian daily newspaper Der Standard (pdf).

Männchen und Weibchen zugleich:
(male and female at the same time)
A 25 minute radio program recorded by Thomas Thaler in which I talk about hermaphrodites in the animal kingdom. 5 minutes of it were broadcast every morning in the last week of April 2004 as part of a series called 'Vom Leben der Natur' (of living nature) on the Austrian radio station Ö1 (click on the day to hear the program)
Monday: Vielfältige Sexualität (diverse sexuality)
Tuesday: Geschlechterwechsel in jede Richtung (sex change in all directions)
Wednesday: Eierhandel im Korallenriff (egg trading in the coral reef)
Thursday: Ein einfacher Organismus (a simple organism)
Friday: Ein durchsichtiger Wurm als Forschungsobjekt (a transparent worm as the study object)

this page was last updated on Tuesday, December 22, 2015