The role of female reproductive fluid in sperm competition

Clelia Gasparini, Andrea Pilastro, Jonathan P. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


The role of non-gametic components of the ejaculate (seminal fluid) in fertility and sperm competitiveness is now well established. Surprisingly, however, we know far less about female reproductive fluid (FRF) in the context of sexual selection, and insights into male-FRF interactions in the context of sperm competition have only recently emerged. Despite this limited knowledge, evidence from taxonomically diverse species has revealed insights into the effects of FRF on sperm traits that have previously been implicated in studies of sperm competition. Specifically, through the differential effects of FRF on a range of sperm traits, including chemoattraction and alterations in sperm velocity, FRF has been shown to exert positive phenotypic effects on the sperm of males that are preferred as mating partners, or those from the most compatible or genetically diverse males. Despite these tantalizing insights into the putative sexually selected functions of FRF, we largely lack a mechanistic understanding of these processes. Taken together, the evidence presented here highlights the likely ubiquity of FRF-regulated biases in fertilization success across a diverse range of taxa, thus potentially elevating the importance of FRF to other non-gametic components that have so far been studied largely in males. This article is part of the theme issue 'Fifty years of sperm competition'.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20200077
Number of pages1
JournalPhilosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences
Issue number1813
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2020


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