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The Art in Science

Product Image Daedalus's Labyrinth

Daedalus's Labyrinth

Lily Oles, Undergraduate Student, and Kenneth Lewis, Ph.D., Research Investigator, Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology (MacDougald Laboratory), University of Michigan Medical School

The labyrinth-like structure shown in this image is a portion of the epididymis in the reproductive tract of a male mouse. The epididymis is a highly convoluted tube that is attached to the testis. Immature sperm are produced by the testis, but must progressively mature as they traverse the convoluted tubules of the epididymis. Only after successfully navigating this maze are the sperm then further conducted to the ejaculatory duct. In this mirrored image, ductal epithelial cells are labelled in green, while red marks the smooth muscle cells that surround these ducts and act to propel the sperm along their journey. How fortunate for all of us that sperm can achieve what the Minotaur could not - find the exit to Daedalus’s labyrinth.