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Review ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Genet. | doi: 10.3389/fgene.2019.00820


  • 1University of Winnipeg, Canada
  • 2University of California, Irvine, United States

Females of many different species often mate with multiple males, creating opportunities for competition among their sperm. Although originally unappreciated, sperm competition is now considered a central form of post-copulatory male-male competition that biases fertilization. Assays of differences in sperm competitive ability between males, and interactions between females and males, have made it possible to infer some of the main mechanism of sperm competition. Nevertheless, classical genetic approaches have encountered difficulties in identifying loci influencing sperm competitiveness while functional and comparative genomic methodologies, as well as genetic variant association studies, have uncovered some interesting candidate genes. We highlight how the systematic implementation of approaches that incorporate gene perturbation assays in experimental competitive settings, together with the monitoring of progeny output or sperm features and behavior, has allowed the identification of genes unambiguously linked to sperm competitiveness. The emerging portrait from 38 genes is their remarkable breadth of biological roles exerted through males and females, the non-preponderance of sperm genes, and their overall pleiotropic nature.

Keywords: sperm competition, male-male competition, Genetic architecture, gene function, speciation

Received: 08 May 2019; Accepted: 08 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Civetta and Ranz. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Alberto Civetta, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Canada,