2013 Volume 59 Issue 4 Pages 334-338
The ability to store sperm in the female genital tract is frequently observed in vertebrates as well as in invertebrates. Because of the presence of a system that maintains the ejaculated sperm alive in the female reproductive tract in a variety of animals, this strategy appears to be advantageous for animal reproduction. Although the occurrence and physiological reasons for sperm storage have been reported extensively in many species, the mechanism of sperm storage in the female reproductive tract has been poorly understood until recently. In avian species, the specialized simple tubular invaginations referred to as sperm storage tubules (SSTs) are found in the oviduct as a sperm storage organ. In this review, we summarize the current understanding of the mechanism of sperm uptake into the SSTs, maintenance within it, and controlled release of the sperm from the SSTs. Since sperm storage in avian species occurs at high body temperatures (i.e., 41 C), elucidation of the mechanism for sperm storage may lead to the development of new strategies for sperm preservation at ambient temperatures, and these could be used in a myriad of applications in the field of reproduction.