Photostimulation and thermotaxis of sperm: Overview and practical implications in porcine reproduction

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© 2019 Elsevier Inc. The journey of mammalian sperm through the female genital tract requires the existence of a myriad of mechanisms that allow cells to reach the oviduct in a timely manner from the place of semen deposition. Several biochemical mechanisms such as signaling through molecules like bicarbonate, neurotransmitters or even glycosaminoglycanes are known and have been studied by several relevant groups worldwide. However, biophysical mechanisms for sperm transport are much less studied and understood. Thermotaxis, for example, is a powerful, physical signaling system that is known to direct sperm inside the female genital tract, although the intimate mechanisms by which this effect is launched are yet to be elucidated. This review is focuses on the analysis of thermotaxis and its possible relationship with another phenomenon that has been observed in sperm from a variety of species, namely photostimulation. An overall review on sperm thermotaxis and putative mechanism/s that can be involved in this phenomenon is developed, followed by a description of the most recent findings on the mechanisms underlying sperm photostimulation, highlighting its possible relationship with thermotactic mechanisms. Finally, an overview regarding some practical implications of the phototactic/thermotactic phenomenon has been included in order to evaluate the possible use of techniques based on these phenomena as tools for improving pig reproduction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • Mammalian sperm
  • Phototaxis
  • Signal transduction pathways
  • Thermotaxis


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