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Polyspermy in birds : sperm numbers and embryo survival [Royal Society Open Science]

Keywords : embryo development, domestic fowl, fertilization, ovum activation, supernumerary sperm, zebra finch

par Frédéric Magné - publié le

Polyspermy is a major puzzle in reproductive biology. In some taxa, multiple sperm enter the ovum as part of the normal fertilization process, whereas in others, penetration of the ovum by more than one sperm is lethal. In birds, several sperm typically enter the germinal disc, yet only one fuses with the female pronucleus. It is unclear whether supernumerary sperm play an essential role in the avian fertilization process and, if they do, how females regulate the progression of sperm through the oviduct to ensure an appropriate number reach the ovum. Here, we show that when very few sperm penetrate the avian ovum, embryos are unlikely to survive beyond the earliest stages of development.(...)

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