Male accessory gland secretions: modulators of female reproductive physiology and behavior

Annu Rev Entomol. 2003;48:163-84. doi: 10.1146/annurev.ento.48.091801.112657. Epub 2002 Jun 4.


Secretions of male accessory glands contain a variety of bioactive molecules. When transferred during mating, these molecules exert wide-ranging effects on female reproductive activity and they improve the male's chances of siring a significant proportion of the female's offspring. The accessory gland secretions may affect virtually all aspects of the female's reproductive activity. The secretions may render her unwilling or unable to remate for some time, facilitating sperm storage and ensuring that any eggs laid will be fertilized by that male's sperm. They may stimulate an increase in the number and rate of development of eggs and modulate ovulation and/or oviposition. Antimicrobial agents in the secretions ensure that the female reproductive tract is a hospitable environment during sperm transfer. In a few species the secretions include noxious chemicals. These are sequestered by developing eggs that are thereby protected from predators and pathogens when laid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Genitalia, Male / metabolism*
  • Insecta / physiology*
  • Male
  • Oviposition / physiology
  • Ovulation / physiology
  • Ovum / growth & development
  • Reproduction / physiology
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Spermatozoa / physiology