Selfish genetic elements and male fertility

R. L. Verspoor, T. A. R. Price and N. Wedell,  Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences,  375:7. 2020.

Selfish genetic elements (SGEs) are diverse and near ubiquitous in Eukaryotes and can be potent drivers of evolution. Here, we discuss SGEs that specifically act on sperm to gain a transmission advantage to the next generation. The diverse SGEs that affect sperm often impose costs on carrier males, including damaging ejaculates, skewing offspring sex ratios and in particular reducing sperm-competitive success of SGE-carrying males. How males and females tolerate and mitigate against these costs is a dynamic and expanding area of research. The intense intra-genomic conflict that these selfish elements generate could also have implications for male fertility and spermatogenesis more widely. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Fifty years of sperm competition’.

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