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Letter
Nature Genetics - 36, 1326 - 1329 (2004)
Published online: 7 November 2004; | doi:10.1038/ng1471

Rate of molecular evolution of the seminal protein gene SEMG2 correlates with levels of female promiscuity

Steve Dorus1, 2, Patrick D Evans1, 2, Gerald J Wyckoff1, 3, Sun Shim Choi1 & Bruce T Lahn1

1  Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Human Genetics, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.

2  Committee on Genetics, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.

3  Present address: Division of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri, 64108, USA.

Correspondence should be addressed to Bruce T Lahn blahn@bsd.uchicago.edu

Postcopulatory sperm competition is a key aspect of sexual selection and is believed to drive the rapid evolution of both reproductive physiology and reproduction-related genes1, 2, 3, 4. It is well-established that mating behavior determines the intensity of sperm competition, with polyandry (i.e., female promiscuity) leading to fiercer sperm competition than monandry1, 2, 3. Studies in mammals, particularly primates, showed that, owing to greater sperm competition, polyandrous taxa generally have physiological traits that make them better adapted for fertilization than monandrous species, including bigger testes, larger seminal vesicles, higher sperm counts, richer mitochondrial loading in sperm and more prominent semen coagulation2, 5, 6, 7, 8. Here, we show that the degree of polyandry can also impact the dynamics of molecular evolution. Specifically, we show that the evolution of SEMG2, the gene encoding semenogelin II, a main structural component of semen coagulum, is accelerated in polyandrous primates relative to monandrous primates. Our study showcases the intimate relationship between sexual selection and the molecular evolution of reproductive genes.

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Nature Genetics
ISSN: 1061-4036
EISSN: 1546-1718
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