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Schneider, Marlon R.; Mangels, Rachel; Dean, Matthew D. (2016): The Molecular Basis and Reproductive Function(s) of Copulatory Plugs. In: Molecular Reproduction and Development, Vol. 83, No. 9: pp. 755-767
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In many animals, male ejaculates coagulate to form what has been termed a copulatory plug, a structure that varies in size and shape but often fills and seals the female's reproductive tract. The first published observation of a copulatory plug in a mammal was made more than 160 years ago, and questions about its formation and role in reproduction continue to endear evolutionary and population geneticists, behavioral ecologists, and molecular, reproductive, and developmental biologists alike. Here, we review the current knowledge of copulatory plugs, focusing on rodents and asking two main questions: how is it formed and what does it do? An evolutionary biology perspective helps us understand the latter, potentially leading to insights into the selective regimes that have shaped the diversity of this structure. (C) 2016 Wiley-Blackwell.