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Abstract

Reproductive proteins maintain species-specific barriers to fertilization, affect the outcome of sperm competition, mediate reproductive conflicts between the sexes, and potentially contribute to the formation of new species. However, the specific proteins and molecular mechanisms that underlie these processes are understood in only a handful of cases. Advances in genomic and proteomic technologies enable the identification of large suites of reproductive proteins, making it possible to dissect reproductive phenotypes at the molecular level. We first review these technological advances and describe how reproductive proteins are identified in diverse animal taxa. We then discuss the dynamic evolution of reproductive proteins and the potential selective forces that act on them. Finally, we describe molecular and genomic tools for functional analysis and detail how evolutionary data may be used to make predictions about interactions among reproductive proteins.