Ejaculate-female and sperm-female interactions

Scott Pitnick, Mariana F. Wolfner, Susan S. Suarez

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter

142 Scopus citations


The mechanisms of sexual reproduction are expected to be complex and evolutionarily dynamic in internally fertilizing species, where numerous biochemical, physiological, morphological, and behavioral mechanisms mediate insemination, sperm migration, sperm storage, the maintenance of sperm viability, and sperm modification, all of which must be properly executed before fertilization can begin. This situation provides the opportunity for postcopulatory sexual selection, which is predicted to further enhance complexity and diversification in genes contributing to differential male fertilization success and female control over paternity. It is becoming increasingly clear that sperm and ejaculate constituents evolve in response to selection pressures imposed by the female reproductive tract. Ejaculate-female interactions (EFIs) can determine whether or not a reproductive attempt is successful and can influence the outcome of sperm competition within populations. Evolutionary diversification of EFIs may further determine the extent of reproductive isolation and gene introgression between closely related species. This chapter aims to illustrate the pervasiveness of EFIs by discussing different types and what is known about their underlying mechanisms, and it considers the evolutionary significance of EFIs. Furthermore the chapter reviews evidence for rapid evolutionary diversification of EFI genes, correlated evolution of sex-specific EFI traits, and the relationship between genetic compatibility, male-female interactions, and patterns of sperm precedence. © 2009

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSperm Biology
Number of pages58
ISBN (Print)9780123725684
StatePublished - 2009


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